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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
June 1, 2012
Northwestern Power Prices Rebound

After weeks of depressed power prices caused in part by abundant hydro production, both peak and off-peak prices in the Northwest made gains over the May 25 to June 1 trading period.

California-Oregon Border peak prices gained about $10.30 to finish at an average of $28.15/MWh Friday. Mid-Columbia peak prices jumped almost $9.30 on average to $19.27/MWh. At California hubs, South of Path 15 lost about $3.10 to roughly $31.05/MWh, while North of Path 15 finished the week at $28.27/MWh, up about $5 compared to last week. Palo Verde earned a few cents over the trading period, ending at an average of $28.70/MWh.

In the Northwest, peak hydro generation fell to about 13,000 MW,, down from levels of 14,000 MW the previous week. Meanwhile, off-peak hydro production hit a low of 9,360 MW May 31 compared to off-peak levels above 13,000 MW during the previous week.

Nighttime average power prices in the region followed suit with COB gaining $10 over the trading period to $17.50/MWh. Mid-C resurfaced from negative pricing, up about $9.25 to finish at an average of $8.72/MWh. SP15 and Palo Verde hubs gained $2 to $3 and both finished around $22/MWh.

Markets were closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

Peak use on the Cal-ISO grid reached a 36,328 MW high Thursday, May 31. NWPP recorded demand of 50,069 MW on the same day.

Spot natural gas prices closed lower June 1 compared to the previous Friday, with Henry Hub down 33 cents to an average of $2.23/MMBtu. In the West, Southern California Border spot gas lost 3 cents on average over the trading period to $2.42/MMBtu, while PG&E CityGate lost 24 cents to $2.62/MMBtu.

Working gas in storage reached 2,815 Bcf as of Friday, May 25, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 71 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 35.1 percent higher than a year ago and 34.6 percent above the five-year average.

Although storage continues to be ample, natural gas consumption fell from 2,488 Bcf in February to 2,109 Bcf in March. Residential natural gas demand alone fell to 409 Bcf "and was the lowest for the month on Energy Information Administration records beginning in 1973," stated Enerfax, which blamed the drop on one of the mildest winters on record.

Natural gas production dropped from 72.02 Bcf/day in February to 71.76 Bcf/day in March, according to the EIA; however, "analysts doubt if it is enough to materially reduce the large storage glut," a June 1 Enerfax report stated.

The 1,170 MW Columbia Generating Station returned to service Tuesday after 10 days' maintenance work. As of Friday, the plant was operating at 97 percent of capacity, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

What's ahead: Following searing heat, the Phoenix area should cool, yet will remain around the century mark into Thursday. Los Angeles-area temperatures will move from the 60s Monday and Tuesday into the 70s Wednesday and Thursday. After a possibility of rain Monday, San Francisco conditions should shift to sunnier skies through Thursday. Rain remains in the Pacific Northwest forecast into Thursday, with Seattle and Portland temperatures in the 60s [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 29 - June 1, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.79-818.57 7.01-21.36
Mid-Columbia 9.50-24.50 0-10.75
COB 18.50-29 8-18.25
NP 15* 28-32.25 19.25-20.25
SP 15* 31-37.75 18-23
Palo Verde 27.50-31 16.25-22.55

* 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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