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Western Price Survey

May 18, 2018
PG&E Sees Gas Line Constraints

Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates the primary natural gas distribution system in Northern California, is reducing pipeline capacity over the next several weeks for maintenance and repair work on a couple of major gas transmission lines and for compressor station maintenance, the utility reported in a gas system update on its website.

Unplanned repairs on the utility’s L-300B line, including pipeline and station maintenance, are forecast to reduce the pipeline’s capacity to 640 MMcf/day, about 56 percent of maximum capacity, between May 17 and 31, according to the utility. The reductions will continue through June, and will lower capacity below 50 percent toward the end of the work. Along with line
L-300A, this path is the primary conduit for transporting natural gas from Arizona to the San Francisco area.

On PG&E’s Redwood Path, which transports gas from Malin, Oregon, into California, capacity will hover between 82 percent and 93 percent through mid-June.

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Hotter weather sent Alberta Electric System Operator demand climbing during the week. Grid operations were further challenged by off-line generation sources and a lack of wind. The Alberta Internal Load—total electricity consumption within the province, including behind-the-fence load and by the City of Medicine Hat—sent daytime pool prices to the C$999.99/MWh maximum May 14, when demand reached 9,898 MW. By May 18, average peak pool power prices fell back to roughly C$30.75/MWh.

Meanwhile, working natural gas in storage was 1,538 Bcf as of May 11, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 106 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Natural gas storage levels are now 34.8 percent less than a year ago and 24.6 percent less than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot prices shed a cent, ending at $2.72/MMBtu in May 10 to May 17 trading.

Among Western natural gas hubs, Alberta natural gas gained the most, up 92 cents to $1.40/MMBtu. Southern California CityGate lost the most value, down 18 cents to $2.69/MMBtu in trading.

Western peak power prices generally dropped between $2 and as much as $12 by May 17; however, Mid-Columbia added 65 cents to reach $8.25/MWh. At the end of trading, prices ranged from $8.25/MWh at Mid-C to $18.10/MWh at South of Path 15.

Nighttime power prices posted losses of between 75 cents and $5.75. North of Path 15 lost the most value, down $5.75 to $14.95/MWh. Mid-C stayed underwater at -$2.10/MWh.

Demand on the CAISO grid reached 28,581 MW May 17. Total renewables reached 16,223 MW May 11, supplying roughly 57 percent of demand. –Linda Dailey Paulson

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

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