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Western Price Survey

May 25, 2007
Wholesale Prices Take a Break for Memorial Day Weekend

Even with two nuclear plants in the West off line, Western power prices dropped through midweek and crept back up ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, but never regained all their value. Electricity prices largely followed natural gas values downward.

The 1,243 MW Unit No. 1 of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant went off line early Saturday for a planned refueling and will remain down through most of June, according to an Arizona Public Service spokesman. Peak power there reached as high as 73.25 mills/kWh for Tuesday deliveries and dropped to a low of 59 mills/kWh Wednesday. Friday trading only saw prices close to 65 mills/kWh, despite forecasts of temperatures in Phoenix nearing 105 degrees through Tuesday. Nighttime power moved from a high of 53.25 mills/kWh Monday to a low of 38.75 mills/kWh Friday.

South of Path 15 average daytime power prices traded in the upper 70s on Monday and Tuesday, but by the end of the week were moving in the low 70s. Nighttime power swung as much as 18 mills/kWh in Monday trading, according to one index. But price swings calmed as values dropped through Wednesday, and off-peak power ended the week trading around 45 mills/kWh.

North of Path 15 peak-power prices tracked in much the same way, bottoming out Wednesday at 64.50 mills/kWh after reaching their highest level Monday. Trades hovered in the upper 60s Wednesday, but by Friday were back in the low 70s. Off-peak prices clocked a high of 59 mills/kWh in Monday trading, but Thursday light deliveries cost traders as little as 45.75 mills/kWh.

At the California-Oregon border as temperatures rose to the upper 70s, peak prices climbed in Tuesday trading and reached 70 mills/kWh. Post-holiday temperatures are expected to be near 80 degrees in Portland, and Friday trading pushed average prices back to the mid-60s after a midweek dip into the 50s. Nighttime power there dropped slightly through the first part of the week, trading for 56 mills/kWh on Monday, reaching a low of 42 mills/kWh on Wednesday, and cruising in the mid-40s through Friday.

With the 1,107 MW Columbia Nuclear Generating Station still off line for scheduled maintenance, and warming temperatures in Seattle, one might expect prices to be climbing in the Mid-Columbia zone. Daytime power prices at Mid-C seemed unaffected, however. Prices hit a high of 67.75 mills/kWh on Tuesday, settled in the 50s Wednesday and Thursday, and barely poked above 60 mills/kWh Friday. Nighttime power traded at a high of 54 mills Monday and swung wildly Tuesday, but by the end of the week went for around 40 mills/kWh [Charles Redell].

Western Natural Gas Prices Drop, Lose More Than $1 in Value

Western natural gas prices started off strong, but nose-dived as the week progressed.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly storage report announced yet another week of storage injections across the country last week. According to the report, 104 Bcf went into storage overall, with 14 Bcf in the West. There was some talk about those numbers being slightly lower than expected, but prices across the West did not reflect that concern heading into the holiday weekend.

At the Permian Basin in West Texas, natural gas values tanked, dropping a full dollar over the course of the week. Monday's high of $7.18/MMBtu was nowhere in sight on Friday, when prices at the hub fell as low as $6.18/MMBtu.

Prices at the San Juan Basin in New Mexico fell even more, with gas going for an average of $7.07/MMBtu Monday and for around $6.03/MMBtu on Friday.

The fall at the Southern California border was even worse. That hub's high-low spread was $1.20/MMBtu. Average prices dropped $1.02/MMBtu from $7.40/MMBtu on Monday to $6.38 on Friday.

Up north, Malin, Ore. saw a high price of $7.26/MMBtu on Monday, which had fallen to a low of $6.43/MMBtu by Friday.

Cool spring weather in Alberta brought some more heating days, keeping the average price of gas at the hub there down a mere 25c/MMBtu from $6.74/MMBtu on Monday to $6.49/MMBtu on Friday [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 21 - 25, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 5.25-259.59 5.43-32.83
Mid-Columbia 50-67.75 39-54
COB 56-70 42-56
NP 15 64.50-80 45.75-59
SP 15 64.25-84 45.25-67
Palo Verde 59-73.25 38.75-53.25

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


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