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Western Price Survey

June 26, 2015
Heat, Low Hydro Lift Power Prices

Western power prices this week saw a temporary lift from higher temperatures, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. California high temperatures are still on the rise, with Sacramento expected to reach 105 degrees June 30.

Average daytime power prices neared the $70/MWh mark in the Pacific Northwest June 24 and 25, but fell to less than $60 by week's end. Pacific Northwest temperatures are 15 to 25 degrees above seasonal norms, with Portland expecting highs in the 90s through July 2.

California-Oregon Border peak power jumped $20.15 to $56.30/MWh over the trading week, and Mid-Columbia peak prices kept pace (see chart). Palo Verde daytime values, however, were nearly static.

In addition to hot weather in the Northwest, the area is also coping with a low level of hydro output. Use of natural gas for electricity in the region reached record levels at 1.0 Bcf/d over the week as a result of lower hydro generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly natural gas update. Nationally, the U.S. also hit a record on June 23 of 34.4 Bcf of gas used for power generation, which was 24.2 percent above the same week last year.

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In California, with air conditioners and fans humming, peak Cal-ISO demand reached 40,496 MW June 25, which should prove the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached a peak of 62,346 MW the same day; the week's high is expected June 26, when demand should be 65,656 MW.

Record solar-generation levels continue bolstering renewables output in California. The grid operator reported total renewables production reached 11,236 MW June 19. Solar production reached 6,196 MW June 22, with a new instantaneous peak of 6,217 MW that same day. The previous all-time peak was 6,194 MW, recorded June 19. Thermal power soared to a 25,042 MW peak June 25, a day on which there were 10 consecutive hours of 20,000-plus MW of thermal output.

Working gas in storage reached 2,508 Bcf as of June 19, according to EIA estimates, a net increase of 75 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 38.3 percent greater than a year ago and 1.4 percent greater than the five-year average [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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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