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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
June 18, 2010
Prices Start Rebound After Water Glut

Power prices recovered slightly this week after record rainfall in the Northwest produced excess hydroelectric generation and lower electricity prices. Average peak prices improved at all six hubs throughout the week, with California-Oregon Border prices up more than $2.50 for the week ending June 18.

Negative pricing for nighttime electricity persisted at Mid-Columbia. The average price ended the week at an average of 30 cents/MWh, after going for a low of -$2/MWh Monday. The hub's previous low mark was a -$5.50/MWh price recorded June 11.

COB off-peak power traded for an average of $6.08 at the end of the week, double the $3.02 price of June 11.

Columbia Generating Station, the Hanford, Wash., nuclear facility owned by Energy Northwest, continued operating at reduced capacity to compensate for the Bonneville Power Administration's excess hydro. Starting June 16, the facility began operating at 85 percent capacity, an increase in generation compared to a low of 22 percent on June 14.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated in its weekly natural gas report that the relatively small increase in natural gas prices for the West Coast -- up only 1 percent from June 9 to June 16 -- was a direct result of the hydro glut in the region. The EIA noted that the Pacific Northwest's surplus power was being provided to California and other states.

Mid-C daytime power traded for a low of $5.50/MWh this week, but the hub posted an average peak price of $12.64/MWh Friday, more than double last Friday's average price of $6.26/MWh.

Prices for COB daytime electricity also improved. The average price at the hub Friday was $22.81/MWh, up more than $6 compared to last Friday's average.

Daytime prices at North of Path 15 traded Friday for an average of $36.51/MWh, down almost 70 cents compared to last Friday. South of Path 15 saw similarly sluggish prices (see table).

Among Western hubs, Palo Verde posted the highest spot price for peak power this week, $38.50/MWh, up $1.30 compared to a June 11 average high.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached a high of 35,204 MW June 14 at 4 p.m. Demand leveled off for the remainder of the week at slightly more than 32,700 MW through Thursday. The next sizeable demand increase is anticipated next Thursday, June 24, when about 34,000 MW is expected as warmer weather arrives.

According to the EIA, an 87 Bcf addition to gas reserves provided a total of 2.543 Tcf in storage as of June 11. Although this was 23 percent less than last year's net injection for the same week, inventories remained 14 percent above the five-year average.

Henry Hub spot prices traded for $5.13/MMBtu on June 16, up 8 percent from the $4.75 price the preceding Wednesday, according to the EIA. Spot prices went for an average of $5.18/MMBtu. Meanwhile, gas futures for the hub traded at $4.98/MMBtu on June 16, a 6 percent improvement from the previous Wednesday price.

What's ahead: Meteorologists are predicting drier and warmer weather for Portland and Seattle starting June 21 and continuing through Wednesday. A front should bring slightly cooler weather to the entire West Coast starting June 24, including Southern California [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: June 14 - 18, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.28-95.81 8.09-36.88
Mid-Columbia 5.50-18 -2-1.25
COB 15-23.75 2.25-7
NP 15* 32.75-36.75 11.50-20.75
SP 15* 32.55-37.50 11.50-20.25
Palo Verde 32.50-38.50 11.50-27.55

* 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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