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Western Price Survey

June 1, 2018
No Vacation for Western Renewables

Renewable generation in the West continues to set records. Between May 25 and May 31, new generation records were set in California and heavy curtailments were necessary in the Pacific Northwest.

The California Independent System Operator set a new record May 26 of 73.9 percent for the instantaneous portion of demand served by renewables. This surpasses the previous 72.7 percent record, set April 28. As of May 1, CAISO reported 21,893 MW of renewable generation available on the grid.

Also on May 26, a new peak for maximum demand served by solar and wind was set, when 64.3 percent of CAISO load was met by those sources. Then, on May 28, a 10,634 MW record for maximum demand served by solar power alone was reached, topping the previous record set in early May.

Farther north, the Bonneville Power Administration reported oversupply conditions each day between May 25 and May 31. During the three-day Memorial Day weekend, a total of 66,565 MWh of wind generation was curtailed. The year-to-date curtailment total is 110,362 MWh.

Some regional nuclear generation sources returned to service. Palo Verde Unit 2 was fully operational as of May 29 after having tripped off line May 23 during planned testing, the result of a control rod dropping into the unit’s core. In California, Diablo Canyon Unit 1 was powered down for unplanned maintenance on May 31, according to Mark Mesesan, a spokesman for Diablo owner Pacific Gas & Electric. As of June 1, the unit was operating at 100 percent of capacity, according to PG&E.

The Columbia Generating Station continued operating at 65 percent of capacity as of June 1, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as it remained in economic dispatch to help BPA manage oversupply on its grid.

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Western peak power prices dropped between $1 and as much as $6.55 by May 31. North of Path 15 lost the most, down $6.55 to $20.55/MWh. At the end of trading, prices ranged from $6.55/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $24.20/MWh at South of Path 15.

Likewise, off-peak power values generally eroded between 50 cents and $3.75. Mid-C, however, added 65 cents, but remained underwater at -25 cents/MWh.

Markets were closed Monday, May 28, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

In May, average natural gas prices were generally less compared with 2017 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price last month at Henry Hub was $2.97/MMBtu, 29 cents less than last year. Western natural gas hubs also lost value year over year, with Malin losing the most value, down 93 cents with an average high price of $2.03/MWh.

Average Western peak power prices in May were generally less than in 2017 by between roughly $5.05 and as much as $16.30/MWh. Palo Verde, however, gained $4.55 year over year to reach $42.75/MWh. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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