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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
May 17, 2013
Western Energy Values Move Lower

Prices for both natural gas and power in the West trended lower on average in the May 10 to May 17 trading period as spring runoff continued influencing Western power prices, especially Pacific Northwest off-peak values.

At Mid-Columbia, off-peak power prices reached a low of (-)$1.50/MWh Thursday, May 16. At the California-Oregon Border, average off-peak prices fell about $8.35/MWh over the trading period to end May 17 at $11.40/MWh, despite an almost $10 jump between Thursday and Friday.

Bonneville Power Administration hydro generation remained strong this week, with little production drop-off during the nighttime and early-morning hours.

Hydro production started at roughly13,000 MW in the early-morning hours on Friday, for example. Production reached almost 13,800 MW Wednesday. Wind in the BPA area edged above 4,000 MW Tuesday.

In contrast, the California Department of Water Resources says record dry conditions are continuing throughout the state. The snowpack water content stood at about 7 percent of average this week, according to DWR. Last year at this time it was 13 percent of average, and two years ago it was 205 percent of average, the agency noted.

Working gas in storage reached 1,964 Bcf as of Friday, May 10, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 99 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 26.1 percent less than a year ago and 4.1 percent below the five-year average.

Henry Hub average natural gas values were roughly even with last week's, trading at $3.89/MMBtu Friday, May 17. Western prices dropped a few cents, with Southern California Border down 4 cents on average, trading at $3.83/MMBtu. Malin lost two cents to $3.76/MMBtu, while PG&E CityGate shed a penny to $3.99/MMBtu by Friday.

Average peak-power values in the West moved slightly lower since last Friday:

  • Mid-Columbia: Dropped $1.60 to $33.50/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Eroded 30 cents to $40.70/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Lost $1.50 to $47.50/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Down $1.10 to $59.05/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Down 60 cents to $38.60/MWh.

Western nighttime power prices dropped between 15 cents and $8.35 since last Friday. Average off-peak prices May 17 ranged from $6.45/MWh at Mid-C to $38.40/MWh at SP15.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 39,400 MW on May 13, the week's high, according to the grid operator. Northwest Power Pool peak demand reached 50,929 MW Monday.

What's ahead: Cooler weather is expected for much of the West Coast the week of May 20. Despite sunny weather forecast along the California coast, San Francisco could drop from 74 oF Monday into the 60s and downtown Los Angeles expects an 82 oF high Monday, falling into the 70s as the week progresses.

Increasingly cooler weather with showers is forecast for the Pacific Northwest in the week ahead. Phoenix-area temperatures, however, are expected to reach the century mark by May 21 [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 13 - 17, 2013
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.02-937.92 10-44.71
Mid-Columbia 24-40 (-)1.50-10
COB 28-45 1-12
NP 15* 38.50-48.50 26-35
SP 15* 45.50-60 27.50-39
Palo Verde 33.75-43.50 20.25-27

* 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.

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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

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

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