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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
May 10, 2013
Cal-ISO Readies for Summer

Cal-ISO is bracing for summer as the continued SONGS outage plus diminished hydro availability and greater power use challenge the supply-demand balance.

The grid operator expects "adequate supply" for most of the state with reliability risks in parts of Southern California, according to its summer 2013 assessment.

System-wide peak demand could reach 47,413 MW this summer, Cal-ISO said, up 738 MW from the actual peak of 46,675 MW in 2012.

Ongoing drought may reduce hydro generation by more than 1,000 MW, according to Cal-ISO. The California Department of Water Resources says record dry conditions are continuing throughout the state. The snowpack water content, measured May 1, 2013, was 18 percent of the statewide May 1 average. Statewide, the year-to-date runoff average at the end of April was 68 percent, DWR noted.

Renewables may help, as production has hit records recently. Solar generation in the Cal-ISO area exceeded 1,700 MW May 9, just shy of the April 18 record of 1,790 MW. A total of 674 MW of solar generation came on line in 2012, with another 490 MW expected throughout 2013.

Cal-ISO wind production reached a 4,196 MW record April 7 and is expected to continue to break records, in part due to new generation coming on line.

Spring runoff has begun in the Northwest, thanks to warmer-than-average weather. The Northwest River Forecast Center water-supply forecast, released May 9, called for 93.1 million acre-feet of runoff on the Columbia River at The Dalles between January and July. That figure is 92 percent of the 30-year average for those months.

Hydro generation continues rising at the Bonneville Power Administration, with off-peak production reaching 13,455 MW by 11 a.m. May 10. With ample hydro, the 1,170 MW Columbia Generating Station will begin powering down for refueling and maintenance starting May 11, and should restart in mid-June.

Working gas in storage reached 1,865 Bcf as of Friday, May 3, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 88 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 28.3 percent less than a year ago and 5 percent below the five-year average. The report helped to push energy prices higher on Friday, but gas values still tumbled over the May 3-10 period, with Henry Hub down 8 cents to $3.90/MMBtu; Southern California Border dropping 12 cents to $3.87; and PG&E CityGate down 8 cents to $4.01.

Here's how average peak values in the West fared since May 3:

  • Mid-Columbia: Shed $1.35 to $35.10/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up $2.80 to $41/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Up $2.50 to $49/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Gained $6.65 to $60.20/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Added $1.65 to $39.25/MWh.

Average off-peak power prices were mixed, with Northwest hubs down $10.75 to $21.20/MWh in the trading period. Prices May 10 ranged from $8.70/MWh at Mid-C to $43.75/MWh at SP15. Off-peak power prices at Mid-C traded for -50 cents/MWh during the report week, but managed to float into positive territory by close of trading [Linda Dailey Paulson].


Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 6 - 10, 2013
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.45-999.99 10-41.63
Mid-Columbia 28-39 (-)0.50-20.25
COB 33.50-43 1-21.50
NP 15* 39-49 26.75-35.50
SP 15* 44.50-61 29.50-43.75
Palo Verde 30.25-40.50 19-31.50

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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


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