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Western Price Survey

May 8, 2015
Low Hydro Outlook, but Cal-ISO Grid Appears Resilient

California electricity supplies should be "adequate" this summer despite less hydro generation, according to the "California ISO 2015 Summer Loads & Resources Assessment," released May 7.

Grid reliability will not be impacted despite drought conditions that are projected to reduce hydro to the lowest level in 10 years. The total hydro derate for the summer should be 1,511 MW under normal conditions and 2,733 MW under extreme conditions, according to the report. Solar power is expected to make up for the loss of hydro (see story at [8.1]).

Hydro is also a concern in the Pacific Northwest, where early runoff and precipitation falling as rain are causing water-supply forecasts to either remain relatively unchanged or trend lower.

"We started out near normal, then things slipped downward starting in January save for the upper Columbia," said Taylor Dixon, Northwest River Forecast Center hydrologist. Observed runoff on the Columbia River at The Dalles was 77 percent of normal from April 1 to May 6.

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Below-average streamflow is forecast for the Columbia River through late summer/early fall, "with implications" for hydropower production, noted the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in a report presented this week. Despite these conditions, no power-supply shortages are anticipated.

Working gas in storage reached 1,786 Bcf as of May 1 according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 76 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 71.1 percent greater than a year ago and 3.6 percent less than the five-year average.

Western natural gas prices were significantly less in April 2015 compared to last year. The average high at Malin in April, which was $2.44/MMBtu, was roughly half that of the 2014 high of $4.87. Average Western power prices during April 2015 were also lower (see "Price Trends" on next page).

Western peak power prices varied nominally in the May 1 to May 8 trading period with Mid-Columbia posting the greatest gains, adding $6.50 to reach $34.40/MWh. North of Path 15 values fell $1.50 to $39.50/MWh. Average daytime prices ranged from $24.45 at Palo Verde to $39/MWh at NP15.

Average nighttime prices in the West were relatively static by May 8 save at Mid-C, which added $7.15 to reach $32.20/MWh. Average nighttime prices ranged from $21 at Palo Verde to $32.20 at Mid-C at the end of the trading week [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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


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

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