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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
June 4, 2010
Peak Prices Up, Nighttime Prices Fall

After starting the week flat, Western electricity prices rose this week, with peak values climbing more than $4 at several hubs. By contrast, heavy rains brought down nighttime prices throughout the region. Markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.

Bargain off-peak values returned as Northwest hydroelectric generation got a boost from intense, often record precipitation levels throughout Oregon and Washington. Mid-Columbia posted the lowest off-peak price of the season Friday at $4/MWh, just below the $5 price recorded May 21.

California-Oregon Border off-peak power traded for an average of $13.10 Friday, nearly even for the week but down more than $10/MWh compared to last Friday.

Nighttime prices at California hubs, meanwhile, kept below $20/MWh midweek before rising in Friday trading to keep about even with last week (see table below).

For daytime prices, North of Path 15 traded Friday for an average of $41.10/MWh, up $7.61 for the week and $5.63 compared to last Friday. South of Path 15 saw similar price increases (see chart at right).

Mid-C daytime power traded for a low of $13/MWh this week but an average of $21.26 Friday -- still a $6 discount compared to May 28. Meanwhile, COB daytime electricity came in at $28.20/MWh Friday, nearly static for the week but off about $3.77 from last Friday's average.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached a high of 31,843 MW June 3 at 4 p.m. after increasing throughout the week. Demand was expected to reach 33,175 MW by Friday at 4 p.m. The grid operator predicts power demand will continue to rise along with California temperatures.

Strong winds early in the week bolstered California's renewable-energy generation yet again. At peak production, renewables provided about 14 percent of system power on the Cal-ISO grid over a 24-hour period on Tuesday, up roughly 2 percent compared to last week. Renewables exceeded 4,000 MW of power on Tuesday, with 1,923 MW from wind and 1,033 MW from geothermal sources. The Bonneville Power Administration reported peak wind output above 2,500 MW on Friday afternoon.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an 88 Bcf addition to gas reserves provided a total of 2.357 Tcf in storage as of May 28. The injection was less than historical levels for the week, according to the EIA; however, storage remains at a record level -- 15 percent above the five-year average.

Henry Hub spot prices rose slightly, trading for $4.32/MMBtu Tuesday, 13 cents higher than the preceding week. As of June 2, prices were 7 percent higher than a year ago, according to the agency. Spot prices traded at $4.46/MMBtu on Friday.

Meanwhile, gas futures, which traded at $4.80/MMBtu Friday, continue to trend higher, according to Enerfax. Traders are buying back futures based on predictions of hotter weather throughout the country and an active hurricane season.

What's ahead: Intermittent dry weather should relieve the soggy Pacific Northwest with some sun and warmer temperatures Monday and Tuesday in Seattle and Portland. But unseasonably low temperatures and rain will return to the region midweek. In areas of Southern California, temperatures will continue in the 80s and 90s, with the Inland Empire expecting the hottest weather of the season, but gradual cooling starts Tuesday [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: May 31 - June 4, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12-493.83 2.40-126.53
Mid-Columbia 13-26 4-14.50
COB 23-30.25 11-16.50
NP 15* 32.75-41.25 15.50-23
SP 15* 32-45 15-23
Palo Verde 32-47.50 14.80-30.50

* 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.

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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