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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
June 3, 2011
Power Prices Surface From Under Water

Western peak power values picked up a few dollars in the Friday-to-Friday trading period from May 27 to June 3, while off-peak prices in the Northwest finally surfaced from negative territory.

An abundance of hydropower in the Northwest and California has kept power prices low overall. Over the trading period, Mid-Columbia off-peak power picked up about $5/MWh, moving from negative territory to about $2/MWh. Meanwhile, the California-Oregon Border finished at about $4.70/MWh, an increase of almost $5.90. Palo Verde posted the greatest gains for off-peak power among Western hubs, up more than $11 over the trading period to $16.25/MWh (see chart).

The Bonneville Power Administration continued periodically cutting non-hydro generation, including wind, to cope with surplus hydropower and protect fish under its "environmental redispatch" initiative. The agency cut 1,036 MWh of generation Tuesday plus another 3,650 MWh Wednesday, June 1 through Thursday, June 2.

Here's how average peak power prices fared over the trading period:

  • Mid-C: Earned $1.75 to roughly $27.20/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up $3 to about $30.20/MWh.
  • NP15: Up around $4.50, ending at about $33.55/MWh in three days' trading.
  • SP15: Gained almost $4, trading at $36.40/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Up $1.25, trading at around $36.10/MWh.

Markets were closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

Natural gas prices also gained. From May 27 to June 3, Southern California Border gas earned 45 cents to an average of $4.58/MMBtu. Prices for both Malin and PG&E CityGate gas were up 34 cents, closing at $4.58/MMBtu and $4.95/MMBtu, respectively.

Henry Hub futures reached $4.74/MMBtu Friday. Futures prices may decline in the weeks ahead on reports of increased production, according to Bloomberg, as production volumes in March averaged 64.8 Bcf/day -- the largest amount recorded since 1973. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports production volumes averaging 64.7 Bcf/d for its report week, an increase of 6.5 percent versus the same period last year.

Working natural gas in storage rose to 2.107 Tcf by May 27, after an 83 Bcf net injection, according to the EIA. Current inventories are 237 Bcf below last year's level.

What's ahead: June gloom may continue in the Pacific Northwest, with forecasters expecting rain in Portland Monday and Tuesday and in Seattle Wednesday and Thursday. After Monday showers, San Francisco should have mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s through Thursday. Dry, cooler weather is anticipated for Southern California Monday through Thursday, with temperatures below seasonal norms [Linda Dailey Paulson].


Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 30 - June 3, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.32-139.75 11.37-29.04
Mid-Columbia 16.50-28.50 (-8)-3.50
COB 21.50-30.50 (-2.25)-6.50
NP 15* 33-35.75 4.55-5.75
SP 15* 25.50-36.75 5.50-11.25
Palo Verde 30.50-36.50 5.25-17.50

* 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.


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

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