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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
May 31, 2013
Heat Raises Western Power Prices

Average peak-power prices throughout the West rose as much as $10.55 since May 24, buoyed by the promise of warmer weather.

Although temperatures in some portions of California and Arizona should cool starting June 2, temperatures above seasonal norms are expected for much of the West Coast through June 13, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid was expected to reach 32,513 MW on May 31, while the Northwest Power Pool expected a 47,059 MW peak.

Working gas in storage reached 2,141 Bcf as of Friday, May 24, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 88 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 23.7 percent less than a year ago and 3.9 percent below the five-year average.

The addition was more than expected, noted Barclays' analysts in their weekly commodities report, and "would have been even higher if it were not for the hotter-than-normal weather during the week."

Henry Hub natural gas values dropped 13 cents since last Friday, trading May 31 at $4.02/MMBtu. Western prices moved lower, with Malin down 7 cents to $3.91/MMBtu and PG&E CityGate dropping 5 cents to trade at $4.17/MMBtu. Southern California Border gas traded roughly even, at $4.03/MMBtu Friday.

Meanwhile, here's how average peak-power prices in the West fared since last Friday:

  • Mid-Columbia: Up $4.40 to $37.35/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Gained $6.35 to $40.70/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Rose $8.60 to $50.60/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Jumped $10.55 to $57/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Up $6.05 to $43.60/MWh.

Off-peak prices posted gains of roughly $6 to $7 since last Friday. Mid-C led gainers, adding $7.50 since May 24. Off-peak values May 31 ranged from $25.50/MWh at Mid-C to $40.50/MWh at NP15.

Markets were closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

Water continues to be a concern for California hydropower. It now appears that January through May 2013 may be the driest period on record for the Sierra Nevada range, according to a May 30 forecast update from the California Department of Water Resources. DWR's analysis is not yet complete, according to the agency, but snowpack is also very low.

Dry conditions have led to increased wildfire risk. Cal-ISO on Thursday afternoon issued a notice of restricted generation maintenance as fires threatened transmission facilities in Southern California. The maintenance notice was lifted late Thursday night, but fires are still burning.

The Powerhouse Fire, in the Angeles National Forest, has burned more than 1,400 acres and was only 15 percent contained as of May 31, according to InciWeb. CAL FIRE reported Friday that, so far this year, it has responded to nearly 1,900 California wildfires that have burned approximately 45,000 acres. In an average year for the same time period, CAL FIRE typically responds to about 990 fires that burn around 7,700 acres [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 27 - 31, 2013
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 18.45-93.98 12.76-71.75
Mid-Columbia 32.50-45 3-29.25
COB 35-47 9.75-29
NP 15* 44-51 31.75-41
SP 15* 49-58.25 32-37
Palo Verde 38-44 25.25-36

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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