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Western Price Survey / Archives

June 18, 1999
Prices Dive After Strong Start

High prices on the California Power Exchange and other Western trading hubs were a short-lived phenomenon as initially hot temperatures waned and utility loads eased a bit. From a Monday peak of 45 mills/KWh for daytime market clearing prices, the California PX stepped lower and lower to 28 mills but rebounded a little to land at 31 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries. Off-peak power was even more erratic, moving up and down all week in a range between 11.8 mills and 19.25 mills/KWh. The latest prescheduled average for off-peak PX power was 16.58 mills/KWh.

Loads on the exchange were markedly higher than they have been-- peaking at 567 GWh on Tuesday before easing to about 550 GWh.

California prices were partly a function of load but also were influenced by still-limited hydroelectricity availability from the Pacific Northwest. The new wrinkle in the market this week was maintenance on the Pacific AC Intertie, which limited southbound exports to 3300 MW. The continued outage of about 600 MW worth of Grand Coulee Dam generation caused Bonneville Power Administration to sit out of the sales market for most of the week.

Other trading hubs also followed the same downward trend as the PX but at lower prices. Palo Verde and California-Oregon Border prices were both reported to exceed 40 mills/KWh on Monday before dropping. COB ended at about 25 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries and Palo Verde dropped to around 29 mills/KWh. Mid-Columbia experienced a little bit of a power shut-in, so energy dropped rapidly from a high of 39 mills/KWh to 21.5 mills/KWh.

In resource events, two San Juan units in New Mexico returned to service Wednesday following repair outages. The major Intertie constraint was expected to lift on Friday.

The Alberta Power Pool appeared to be settling down from some skittishness early in the week but hit a resource constraint on Thursday that sent prices skyrocketing to between 354 mills and 518 mills/KWh mid-day.

Looking ahead, WNP-2 nuclear plant is currently scheduled to begin restart operations on June 30, reaching full power by July 3. However, it is possible that BPA may ask operators to bring the unit online sooner--or keep it at less than full power to conserve fuel to meet potential peak demand this summer [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Climbs on Higher Power Demand

In contrast to electric power, Western natural gas prices followed a steady upward trend this week, largely because of higher demand for power generators. The widest range was recorded at Permian Basin-- between $2.09/MMBtu and $2.18/MMBtu--as supplies switched between markets in the Midwest and California. San Juan Basin moved from $2.04 up to $2.12 before settling at about $2.09/MMBtu.

Some supply pressure was felt on Wednesday when the El Paso Ignacio processing plant tripped on an electric power outage, but the curtailment was short-lived, according to traders.

The Southern California Border prices went up to $2.36/MMBtu from the mid-$2.20s earlier in the week.

There was less movement to Northwest and Canadian gas prices. Malin rose from $2.17/MMBtu to $2.23/MMBtu, while the Alberta index hung between $(C)2.78 and $2.83/Gigajoule. By the end of the week, Alberta landed at $2.79/Gj [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of June 18, 1999
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 30-518 5.8-32
California PX (WAC) 28.2-44.85 11.8-19.5
Mid-Columbia 21-39 10-11
COB 24.75-42 11.5-14
Palo Verde 29-43 12-16

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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