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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
May 28, 2010
Nighttime Power Rebounds

Western electricity prices climbed this week, with peak prices jumping more than $3 at some hubs and off-peak prices rising between $1 and almost $3 at hubs throughout the region.

The bargain pricing of recent weeks, attributable to the spring runoff, was short-lived thanks to a lack of Northwest hydroelectric generation.

By Friday all of the hubs, save for the California-Oregon Border, were higher by roughly $1.65 to $2.25/MWh compared to last Friday's average price. Average peak prices at the border closed the week 80 cents lower than last Friday's price.

California peak prices at North of Path 15 traded Friday at $35.47/MWh, up $3.10 for the week. At South of Path 15, average peak prices rose $3.31 for the week to trade Friday at $34.91.

Mid-Columbia daytime prices bottomed out at $11/MWh May 21; the lowest peak price recorded at the hub this week was $23/MWh. Average prices fluctuated only 20 cents.

Of six Western hubs, Mid-C posted the lowest off-peak price Monday at $17.50/MWh, well above a low of $5, recorded May 21.

Daytime prices at Palo Verde were the strongest among the Western hubs, with peak prices reaching $37.25/MWh Friday. Thursday trades for peak electricity were actually made Wednesday, according to ICE.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached a high of 28,425 MW Monday. California electricity use remained around 28,000 MW throughout the week. The ISO is predicting an increase in power demand, which should exceed 30,000 MW, starting June 1.

Operations at the 1,335 MW first unit of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station resumed May 23. The unit had been off line for refueling and replacement of reactor vessel heads since April. By Friday, the unit was operating at 85 percent, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

California's renewable-energy generation was bolstered by strong winds early in the week. At peak production, renewables provided about 12.09 percent of system power on the Cal-ISO grid over a 24-hour period on Monday. Peak renewable generation reached nearly 3,500 MW Monday at 1 a.m. Peak wind generation for Bonneville Power Administration reached around 2,500 MW on Friday.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas inventories increased by 104 Bcf to 2.269 Tcf on Wednesday. Storage remains at a historical high for this time of year and is 16.3 percent above the five-year average. The EIA reports that production continues to remain high.

Henry Hub spot prices were down, trading for $4.19/MMBtu Wednesday, 9 cents lower than the preceding week, according to the EIA. Spot prices traded at $4.22/MMBtu on Friday.

What's ahead: Although meteorologists continue to predict a dry Memorial Day weekend for the Pacific Northwest, unseasonably low temperatures and rain are expected to resume midweek as an atypical, moist front enters the region. Precipitation from this system may not quite extend into San Francisco, which should warm. The Santa Ana winds have arrived in Southern California, according to the National Weather Service, with gusts of nearly 60 mph anticipated. Temperatures in that region are expected to reach the 80s and 90s in inland areas of Southern California by Thursday [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 24 - 28, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.93-533.20 8.09-37.75
Mid-Columbia 23-30.25 17.50-26.50
COB 27.50-33 20.75-27.50
NP 15* 30.75-36.50 22-28.50
SP 15* 30.25-36 20-28
Palo Verde 30.75-37.25 20-31.75

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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 Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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