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Western Price Survey / Archives

May 28, 2004
Prices Relax, Start Long Weekend Early

Prices for power in the West took a distinct nosedive this week, following nearly a month of relatively firm fig-ures. Prices at hubs throughout the region slipped by as much as 10 mills/KWh for high-demand power as the week wore on. The upcoming Monday holiday, Memorial Day, was partly to blame for the drop, as expected low demand over the three-day weekend had a dampening ef-fect on both volumes and values. Mild weather through-out the Western states also contributed to the pull-down.

After opening the week at between 45.50 mills and 48 mills/KWh, the price for peak power at the Mid-Columbia hub sank to 35 mills/KWh for late-week deliv-eries. Off-peak power also shed about a dozen mills over the course of the week. Hovering near the 35 mills to 37 mills/KWh mark on Monday and Tuesday, the price for nighttime power skated close to the 24 mills/KWh mark for weekend packages. Power for next Tuesday off-peak deliveries dropped down to 19 mills/KWh.

South of Columbia, at the California/Oregon bor-der hub, prices wilted as the week wore on. Opening the week in the low fifties, the price for peak power at COB dropped down to a range of 39.75 mills/KWh to 46.50 mills/KWh on Thursday before rising again for next-week deliveries. Off-peak power at the border hit a high of 38.50 mills/KWh in Monday trading, before shedding 4 to 5 mills for Wednesday exchanges. The price dropped further in Friday dealmaking, down to the week's low of 24 mills/KWh.

Power at California hubs also exhibited little get-up-and-go this week. Ample supplies and less-than-average demand kept volatility at the NP15 and SP15 hubs fairly sedate this week. During the first two days of the week NP15 peak power kept to the high fifties. By Wednesday, packages for delivery at the hub lost 4 to 5 mills, losing that much again in the closing days of the week, to close at a low of 46.75 mills/KWh for week-end deliveries. Nevertheless, NP15 found its legs for fol-lowing-week power. On Friday, power to be supplied June 1 was moving for as much as 62.75 mills/KWh.

SP15 deals generally maintain a bit more strength than their northern sibling's, and this week was no exception. Trading for between 54.25 mills and 58 mills/KWh on Monday, the commodity cost scaled back by less than 5 mills in late-week trading before reversing course and climbing to 61 mills/KWh on Friday [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Price Rings a Bell

The price of wholesale natural gas on the spot mar-ket remained variable this week, tending toward a bell-shaped curve. Prices generally rose in Tuesday and Wednesday trading before slipping downward later in the week.

High inventory in the pipes continues to plague Pa-cific Gas & Electric's California Gas Transmission system. The pipeline operator called an system-wide operational flow order with zero tolerance for both Thursday, May 27 and Friday, May 28.

The Energy Information Administration recorded a increase of 89 Bcf to the nation's underground storage facilities last week, putting the current total much higher than last year at this time, but still a hair less than the five-year average.

A transportation premium was not strongly evi-denced in this week's pricing of gas. Permian gas at-tracted nearly as much as deliveries to the PG&E CityGate hub. Permian hit a high of $6.24/MMBtu while CityGate topped out at $6.25/MMBtu [S.O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
May 24 - 28, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 37.07-98.92 10.32-76.83
Mid-Columbia 29.50-48 19-37
COB 39.75-53 24-38.50
NP 15 46.75-62.75 27-41
SP 15 49.75-61 26-37.25
Palo Verde 45-55 25.25-35

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.

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Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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