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Western Price Survey / Archives

June 13, 2003
How Low Can They Go?

Cooler-than-normal weather is forecast throughout the coming weekend for the West and power prices around the region responded to the expectation that demand would be fairly soft. As the week wore on, trade prices faded, and deals at the Mid-Columbia hub engaged in a how-low-can-you-go limbo.

By Thursday, power for Friday and Saturday deliveries at Mid-C was moving as low as 15.25 mills/KWh for peak deliveries and a meager 10.25 mills/KWh for off-peak trades. At the other end of the region, Palo Verde power traded on Monday for as high as 57 mills/KWh for peak delivery but faded to the 40 mills/KWh zone later in the week.

Off-peak power prices displayed a bit more consistency throughout the week. For example, prices at SP15 remained in the 16 mills to 17.75 mills/KWh vicinity, and other hub off-peak prices dropped by only 3 to 4 mills over the course of the week. Still, as if to contradict that, the price for off-peak deliveries for next Monday jumped up significantly. At COB, Friday's off-peak trades for Monday delivery hit 23 mills/KWh while at Palo Verde they topped out at 31.50 mills/KWh and rose to 33 mills/KWh at SP15.

The California Independent System Operator reported loads of less than 30,000 MW following Monday's peak load of 30,851 MW. The rest of the week also will likely not put too much strain on grid operations. For Thursday, peak load topped out at just 28,865 MW.

The generation-outage count posted on the Cal-ISO Web site has ranged from between 3,300 MW and 4,500 MW throughout the week. Though a number of generating units with capacity of more than 300 MW are listing on the site, few are curtailed by more than 30 MW.

One facility that has been listed as being on unplanned-outage status is Sempra Energy Resources' 549 MW Elk Hills facility. The plant, however, is still in test mode. According to company spokesperson Art Larson, Elk Hills is expected to go into official commercial operation later this month, though it has, at times during the testing phase, been providing power to the grid [Shauna O'Donnell].

Natural Gas is the Talk of the Town

The end of May and beginning of June have brought a number of operational flow orders to Pacific Gas & Electric's California Gas Transmission system. As reported last week, CGT called OFOs on June 5 and 7. On Saturday, June 8 it called another-with a 0 percent tolerance. Another OFO was in effect for Thursday, June 12, again with a 0 percent tolerance, and one was called for Saturday with a 4 percent tolerance band. All of the OFOs have been systemwide and brought on by high inventory in the pipeline.

The talk of the town in natural gas news, so to speak, has centered on longer-range forecasting of supply and prices. This week brought Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan before a congressional committee to express his concerns about the mid- to long-term outlook for natural gas availability in the country.

In the near term, Southern California Gas is comfortable with its injections into storage. Though reserves are still building for next winter, company spokesperson Denise King said that SoCal Gas is on target to fill its storage facilities in time for the high heating demand. King also confirmed that the SoCal Gas system has also called some OFOs in recent weeks because of high inventory in its pipelines.

Though coming in slightly lower than last week's trades, prices for this week stayed pretty consistent at the western hubs dropping only on Friday for Sunday deliveries. Permian, which traded on Monday at between $5.43 and $5.70/MMBtu, tapered down to the $465 to $4.945/MMBtu range by the end of the week.

CityGate prices wilted as well over the course of the week, from a high of $5.76/MMBtu at the beginning of the week to the $4.55 to $4.725/MMBtu range on Friday, while Topock dropped to between $4.50 and $4.85/MMBtu [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of June 9-13, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.34-237.02 10.29-39.70
Mid-Columbia 15.25-36 10.25-23
COB 23.30-44.5 13-15.50
NP 15 37.75-47.25 15-30
SP 15 40.50-60 15.50-33
Palo Verde 39-57 13.25-31.50

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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