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Western Price Survey

May 25, 2018
Little Reaction to Off-Line Nuclear Sources

Two of the West’s three nuclear facilities experienced generation interruptions over the past week, with one of them appearing to have helped grid operations rather than adversely affecting them.

The 1,207 MW Columbia Generating Station in Washington resumed operation May 24 after “a grid disturbance” tripped it off line May 18.

The lack of nuclear generation “helped keep the wind from being curtailed” by the Bonneville Power Administration over the weekend, said Jeff Richter, a principal with Energy GPS. “This week, the load has increased enough to warrant gas to be back in the stack regardless of the nuclear being off line or not.”

Energy Northwest, which owns and operates the plant, did not elaborate on the incident in a news release. The facility was operating at 65 percent as of May 25, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station’s Unit 2 tripped off line May 23 during planned testing, the result of a control rod dropping into the unit’s core, according to Alan Bunnell, a spokesman for Arizona Public Service, the plant’s majority owner and operator. Repairs underway should allow it to “be synched to the grid sometime this Memorial Day weekend,” he said. The plant’s three units generate roughly 4,000 MW.

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The California Independent System Operator reported no grid impacts. Nuclear generation on the CAISO grid peaked at 2,284 MW May 21, which served roughly 8 percent of load.

Demand on the CAISO grid reached 28,886 MW May 22, while total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 15,713 MW May 18, supplying roughly 55 percent of demand.

Working natural gas in storage was 1,629 Bcf as of May 18, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 91 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices added 15 cents, ending at $2.87/MMBtu in May 17 to May 24 trading.

Western natural gas generally gained value in trading. Southern California Border gas gained the most, up 20 cents to $2.12/MMBtu. Southern California CityGate and Sumas natural gas proved exceptions. The former—which EIA analysts noted as being “volatile”—lost the most, down 21 cents to $2.48/MMBtu in trading, while Sumas dropped 16 cents to $1.42/MMBtu.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, Western peak power prices increased between $2.25 and as much as $8.85 by May 24. North of Path 15 gained the most, up $9.85 to $27.10/MWh. At the end of trading, prices ranged from $11.50/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $27.10/MWh at NP15.

Likewise, off-peak power values gained between $1 and almost $11. NP15 gained $10.90 to reach $25.85/MWh.
–Linda Dailey Paulson.

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

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