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Western Price Survey / Archives

May 10, 2002
No Clear Direction Seen in Power Market

Electricity prices stretched and contracted this week with little inclination in either direction. The weather pattern was just as mixed as a late burst of cold weather on Monday slowed the runoff and dropped a few more inches of snow in the far north at the same time Southwestern states basked in 95 degree temperatures. Later when the frozen areas thawed, the desert cooled. The weather may have influenced power prices a little, but more of a factor was the volatile changes in natural gas indexes.

Up through Thursday Mid-Columbia power prices firmed up to the 26 mills/KWh level but then collapsed to 21 mills/KWh for the Friday/Saturday delivery packages. Bonneville Power Administration started the week as a buyer, according to Northwest river watchers because the cold weather had chilled flows and hydroelectric production. BPA offered 100 MW midweek but then dropped out of the sales market for the upcoming weekend. Off-peak prices at Mid-C bounced around between 15 mills and 18 mills/KWh as a result.

The California/Oregon Border price did not quite touch 30 mills/KWh at its highest level, but NP15 and SP15 were in the 31.5 mills to 33 mills/KWh range at their peak. Heading into the weekend, COB fell to 25.5 mills to 27 mills while NP15 centered at 28 mills to 29.5 mils/KWh. SP15 was still following a broader range from 26.5 mills to 30.5 mills/KWh. The California off- peak prices settled to about 17.5 mills after having been up to 19 mills/KWh.

As temperatures cooled in the Southwest, the Palo Verde peak price eased into the 26 mills to 28 mills/KWh hammock and overnight prices slipped to 15.25 mills to 16 mills/KWh. Earlier in the week, PV had approached 32 mills at peak.

Although the California Independent System Operator reported almost 16,000 MW of unit outages midweek, its loads were quite moderate. When the peak finally crossed the 30,000 MW mark on Thursday, more of the missing generation had returned. Among units seen back on line were the Mohave No. 1 plant and Four Corners No. 5, which together brought more than 1,000 MW of California-bound energy into the fold.

The only major transmission line outage reported this week was the 500 KV Moss landing/Los Banos line, out through Sunday on scheduled repairs. That had some impacts on Path 15 and Path 26 flows as well [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Seeks More Solid Footing

A lower than expected rate of injections into storage gave natural gas prices a boost on Thursday, as the US Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration took over the task of storage reports from the American Gas Association. EIA reported 39 Bcf was pumped into the ground across the nation, bringing the working gas totals to nearly 1.6 Tcf.

While traders disclaimed expectations of any kind of disruption in forecasts resulting from the change, some market observers appeared surprised that EIA's base estimate of gas in storage was only 22 Bcf higher than that calculated by the AGA.

Prices fluctuated greatly in the West, with the San Juan Basin moving within a range of $1/MMBtu during the week, from a low of $2.20 to a high of $3.16/MMBtu. Despite all the bouncing around, the San Juan trend was mostly downward.

Not so at Topock, which climbed from $3.15 to $3.42/MMBtu, largely on the NYMEX coattails. Permian eventually steadied in the $3.28 to $3.35/MMBtu range after staring the week at $3.07/MMBtu.

Malin had been trailing the SF CityGate by about $0.08/MMBtu until Wednesday when the gap grew to about $0.20/MMBtu. Late in the week, Malin was seen from $3.27 to 3.34/MMBtu while the CityGate price was $3.38 to $3.49/MMBtu.

The Alberta index showed a wide spread from $(C) 4.21/Gigajoule to $4.58/Gj [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of May 6-10, 2002
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11-80 8-23.6
Mid-Columbia 21-29 16.25-18
COB 25-30 17-19
NP 15 26.75-31.75 17.5-18.5
SP 15 26.5-32.5 17-19.5
Palo Verde 25.5-32 15.25-18

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


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