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Western Price Survey / Archives

May 7, 2004
Emergency in Southern California Bodes Ill for the Summer

Hot weather throughout California forced the California Independent System Operator grid in another transmission emergency because of potential overload of the grid south of Path 26 on Monday. Southern California Edison was called upon to shed load in order to protect the transmission system. Edison activated its interruptible-load program at 2:30 pm.

All total, 700 to 750 MW of load was dropped from the grid in Southern California. Cal-ISO called off the transmission emergency at 11:59 pm, after having lifted the restricted-maintenance directive for power plants at 10:00 pm. Facilities' operators had been on notice to not perform any elective maintenance work on generators since about 5:00 pm Sunday afternoon. The rest of the week saw the grid under normal operating conditions.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Pat Wood even voiced dismay about the power situation in California this week. Speaking after the commission's Wednesday meeting, he opined that the supply and transmission constraints experienced in the state recently harken back to the difficult days of 2000-2001.

Given the resource shortage and transmission constraints on Monday, Cal-ISO was required to buy power on the real-time market for as much as $185/MWh between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm that day.

NP15 peak-time deliveries opened the week trading for between 60 mills and 64 mills/KWh, then tripped up to a high of 66.25 mills/KWh in Tuesday's exchanges. Prices weaked slightly the following day--to between 60.50 mills and 63 mills/KWh before falling off to between 55.50 mills and 58.25 mills for weekend packages. Off-peak power at the hub ranged from 42 mills to 48 mills/KWh much of the week.

Daytime power at SP15 topped out at 66.50 mills/KWh in Tuesday trading. The price slipped down to a low of 57.25 mills/KWh for Friday/Saturday deliveries but a handful of trades were still recorded at 62 mills/KWh. Off-peak power at SP15 changed hands for 40 to 42.25 mills/KWh on Monday before moving up to a high of 46.75 mills/KWh the following day. The price shed a couple of mills in late-week trading.

Palo Verde and California-Oregon Border power were also supported by the high demand in Southern California. Peak power at Palo Verde topped out at 64.25 mills/KWh for Wednesday deliveries before falling to 53 mills/KWh for weekend supplies. Off-peak power at PV attracted as much as 44 mills/KWh on Tuesday. The price for low-demand power sagged to 39.50 mills/KWh in Thursday trading.

COB peak-power prices ran a few mills below the Southwest hub, yet managed to reach a high of 65.50 mills/KWh for Wednesday deliveries. The price for nighttime power at COB flexed its muscles on Tuesday, rising to a West-wide high of 49 mills/KWh [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices Heat Up

As is their wont, natural gas values worked in concert with electricity prices this week. A boost in the price for power for midweek deliveries egged gas prices upward throughout the West. Still, when power prices eased somewhat in late-week trading, natural gas costs clung to the higher end of the week's price range.

Southern California Border prices began the week betweeen $5.50 and $5.71/MMBtu. Tuesday saw the price hit a high of $6.10/MMBtu before slipping down to between $5.90 and $6.085/MMBtu Thursday.

At the other end of the state, deliveries at the Malin hub were moving for between $5.41 and $5.53/MMBtu on Monday. The price swelled to a high of $5.80/MMBtu in late-week trading.

The transportation premium kept PG&E CityGate gas running about 50 cents above basin prices. After opening the week in a range of $5.86 to $5.95/MMBtu, CityGate gas quickly rose above the $6.00 mark. The hub price remained strong at the end of the week--$6.20/MMBtu. Neither Permian nor San Juan Basin gas crossed the $6.00 line. San Juan gas hit a high of $5.78/MMBtu on Tuesday and end of week deliveries also changed hands for that price [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
May 3 - 7, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 44.02-229.91 10.59-104.64
Mid-Columbia 46-58.50 40-48
COB 51.50-65.50 42.25-49
NP 15 55.50-66.25 42-48
SP 15 57.25-66.50 40-46.75
Palo Verde 53-64.25 37.50-44

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

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