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Western Price Survey

May 5, 2006
Peak Prices in the West Keep to the Middle; Northwest Off-Peak Costs Hit the Skids Before Rebounding

Throughout the West, loads and temperatures were fairly mild this week. In California Independent System Operator territory, peak demand has exceeded 30,000 MW on only a few occasions during the past month, generally sticking closer to the 28,000 MW to 29,000 MW range.

Average temperatures in the Southwest are keeping electricity prices in that region from escalating. At the Palo Verde hub, daytime power costs ranged from a low of 44.50 mills/KWh recorded on Thursday to a high of 53.50 mills/KWh on Tuesday. Mostly the value of PV peak power hovered just below 50 mills/KWh this week. Nighttime power at the Southwest hub attracted between 23 mills and 28.50 mills/KWh at the start of the week. The price slipped all the way down to 15 mills/KWh for weekend packages, but by the end of the week had regained some traction and closed at between 30 mills and 36 mills/KWh.

Northwest off-peak power prices tanked this week. Mid-Columbia nighttime power changed hands for a "high" of 6.50 mills/KWh on Monday before skidding all the way down to 0.25 mills/KWh on Wednesday. A ratcheting back of the flow of water through dams moved the price back up to between 2.25 mills and 6 mills/KWh on Thursday, and by Friday the price rose to between 8 mills and 15 mills/KWh.

Peak-time power at Mid-C drew between 27.50 mills and 35.50 mills/KWh at the start of the week, hovered at about that level on Tuesday and eased down by a few mills on Wednesday. The price ranged from 28.50 mills to 37 mills/KWh on Friday

Southern California peak-power costs ranged from 51 mills to 54.25 mills/KWh on Monday. Weekend power traded for a low of 46 mills/KWh on Thursday and hit a high of 57 mills/KWh on Friday. Off-peak power in the South of Path 15 region topped out at 28.50 mills/KWh most of the week before hitting a new high of 33 mills/KWh for next-week deliveries. The low was recorded on Thursday, when nighttime deliveries scheduled for the weekend bottomed out at 15.25 mills/KWh.

North of Path 15 power prices hovered just below the SP15 figures this week. After opening on Monday trading for between 48.50 mills and 53.25 mills/KWh, daytime power in the NP15 zone changed hands for between 42.50 mills and 46 mills/KWh on Thursday. The price erosion was halted on Friday, when peak power attracted between 41 mills and 53 mills/KWh. Nighttime power prices in the Northern California region ranged from 16 mills to 21.50 mills/KWh at the start of the week. The cost remained about the same on Tuesday, but by Wednesday slipped down to between 9.75 mills and 16 mills/KWh. Prices rallied on Friday to between 20 mills and 26 mills/KWh for packages to be shipped on Sunday and Monday [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Costs in the West Seesaw

Unpredictable is the watchword for the swings in the price of natural gas. Most times the cost on the wholesale market tracks the rise and fall of crude oil prices. At other times, gas costs appear to defy the trend in oil costs. Though the price of a barrel of oil moved back up above the $70-per-barrel mark on Friday after spending the prior day below that level, Western natural gas costs dropped in end-of-week trading.

At the Southern California border delivery point at Topock, natural gas cost between $5.09 and $5.45/MMBtu on Friday after hitting a high on Wednesday of $5.88/MMBtu. The cost of the commodity at the Northern California delivery site at Malin fell to a range of $5.50 to $5.65 on Friday, down from between $5.39 and $5.45 the previous day. Malin gas traded for a high of $5.80 at midweek.

Producing basin gas costs swooned this week. After opening on Monday moving for between $5.25 and $5.38/MMBtu, San Juan gas reached its apex on Tuesday, trading for slightly more than $5.60/MMBtu. By Friday the price sank to between $4.85 and $5.13/MMBtu [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
May 1 - 5, 2006
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 15.40-130.25 6.93-47.17
Mid-Columbia 17-37 .25-17
COB 29-45 4.75-22.50
NP 15 42.50-53.25 9.75-26
SP 15 46-55 15.25-33
Palo Verde 44.50-53.50 15-36

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from Energy NewsData's comprehensive regional news services. See for yourself how NewsData reporters put events in an accurate and meaningful context -- request a sample of either or both California Energy Markets and Clearing Up.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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