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Western Price Survey

May 5, 2017
Western Power Prices Go for Rollercoaster Ride

Sharp price dips and a modest lift were the hallmark of Western peak power prices in April 28 to May 5 trading.

Prices plunged as much as $20.10 in a single day’s trading between May 3 and 4 before most hubs ticked up. California-Oregon Border posted the greatest losses that day, while South of Path 15 daytime values also tumbled $16.80.

In the trading period, Pacific Northwest hubs added a couple of dollars, while California hubs dropped between 30 cents and roughly $2.70 in trading. Palo Verde posted the greatest losses and moved lower at week’s end to $25.45/MWh.

Mid-Columbia off-peak prices recovered during trading, adding $4.20 to end at 66 cents May 5. During the week, spot prices at the hub ranged from -$3/MWh to $4.75/MWh.

The Bonneville Power Administration reported that 7,415 MWh had been curtailed April 28 to 30. The total curtailment for the year to date is now 82,910 MWh.

In California, CAISO has curtailed a total of 248,857 MWh of renewable generation in the year to date.

CAISO demand peaked at 35,694 MW May 3—the same day the grid operator issued a Grid Stage 1 System Emergency Notice (see story at [11]). Although originally declared through the end of the day, CAISO ended the alert at 9 p.m. Pacific Time.

Meanwhile, working natural gas in storage was 2,256 Bcf as of April 28, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 67 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 13.7 percent less than a year ago and 15.5 percent greater than the five-year average.

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Demand increased slightly during the EIA’s report week. Total demand was up 4 percent week over week. Natural gas used for power generation increased 9 percent.

Henry Hub gas spot values remained at $3.03/MMBtu between April 27 and May 4.

Western natural gas prices ticked up slightly, climbing between 3 cents and 10 cents in trading. El Paso-Permian posted the greatest gains, ending at $2.74/MMBtu May 4.

In April, average natural gas prices were higher than those in April 2016 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price at Henry Hub was $3.22/MMBtu, which was about $1.20/MMBtu more than in 2016. Prices at Western hubs were roughly $1.05 to $1.30/MMBtu higher than in the same month last year.

Average Western power prices in April were between $5.60 and $14.50 greater than in the same month last year, with the greatest hike at Palo Verde. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

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.

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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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