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Western Price Survey

May 20, 2016
Were It Not for Aliso, Summer Reliability Would Be a Breeze

California should have adequate generating resources to meet peak summer demand, but Southern California still faces the possibility of rolling black-outs from the moratorium on injections at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, according to the CAISO 2016 Summer Assessment released this week.

Peak demand is projected to reach 47,529 MW based on projected modest economic growth compared with last year, which had a summer peak of 47,257 MW. The all-time summer peak of 50,270 MW was recorded in 2006.

CAISO expects 2,306 MW of generation to be added between June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016; 85 percent of that total will be solar.

Hydro generation is expected to be at near-normal levels this spring and summer, the grid operator said. This is based on March 30 snow-water content data, which was 87 percent of average for that date.

The spring runoff is "progressing more quickly than the historical average," according to CAISO; however, conditions are not sufficiently significant to revise its assumptions in the report.

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Working natural gas in storage was 2,754 Bcf as of May 13, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 73 Bcf compared to the previous week. Storage levels are now 40.3 percent greater than a year ago and 40.6 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values fell 17 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $1.83/MMBtu May 19.

Western natural gas average values generally followed the benchmark Henry Hub, dropping between 13 and 33 cents in the trading period. Stanfield posted the greatest loss, down 33 cents to end at $1.49/MMBtu May 19. Sumas proved the exception, adding 23 cents to $1.29.

Meanwhile, peak power prices generally moved lower in May 13 to May 20 trading. Mid-Columbia added $1.15 to reach an average of $14.70/MWh.

Average nighttime power prices dropped in Friday-to-Friday trading. South of Path 15 posted the greatest loss, down $9.60 to $13.90/MWh.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 31,327 MW May 17, which should be the week's high. Total renewables production on the CAISO grid reached 12,969 MW on May 14. That same day wind production reached 4,369 MW. Total solar production reached 7,730 MW May 13, while thermal generation peaked at 13,326 MW May 17. [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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

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