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Western Price Survey / Archives

June 27, 2003
Load Tops 40K, System Holds its Own

All across California the sun was out in force this week. During the latter part of the week nary a cloud was to be seen over much of the state. For the first time this year, load in the California Independent System Operator's control area reached more than 40,000 MW. On Thursday demand peaked at about 4:10 pm, reaching 40,119 MW. The weather in Southern California was responsible for holding it at that level, as clear skied did not bring about a heat wave in Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric territory. While both Los Angeles and San Diego reported a high of 71 degrees on Thursday, San Francisco heated up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Central Valley temperatures easily exceeded 100 degrees that day.

As goes the weather, so go the prices. Trading hubs throughout the West saw the cost of power rise steadily through the first half of the week-both for peak and off-peak deliveries. California/Oregon Border prices moved from a range of 40.75 mills to 47.50 mills/KWh on Monday up to between 46 mills and 59.50 mills/KWh on Wednesday. Power prices for trades conducted on Thursday for Friday and Saturday deliveries exhibited their customary sag in expectation of lower loads. Mid-C peak power traded for between 41.50 mills and 49 mills/KWh.

The Columbia Generating Station has been shut down for more than a month for a planned refueling. The initial delay in ramping back up the unit a couple weeks ago was due to a balky valve. But, just as that issue was resolved, another arose. According to Gary Miller of Energy Northwest, a condensate booster pump motor from the unit has been shipped off site for repair and its absence will preclude Columbia from surpassing 70 to 80 percent output until it is reinstalled. The return date for the part is July 11 and ramp up to 100 percent will hopefully follow. As of Thursday, Columbia was at 12 percent of its 1,150 MW capacity.

"We'll be happy to get up to 70 percent," remarked Miller after noting the length of time Columbia has been down.

Sometime in the early hours of Wednesday, Diablo Canyon Unit No. 1 was derated to about 75 percent because of repairs that needed to be done to the reactor-monitoring system. Later that day it was back at 100 percent capacity. Then, in the wee hours of Friday the unit was taken down to 50 percent for scheduled maintenance on the non-nuclear portion of the plant. A return to full power is expected for next Tuesday.

Other notable outages this week included the 900 MW Intermountain Power unit in Utah that is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. Intermountain was listed as an unplanned shut down by Cal-ISO. Mirant's 682 MW Pittsburg No. 7 was also forced off line on Thursday morning but dropped off the Cal-ISO outage list by late afternoon. Redondo Unit Nos. 5 and 6 were also on forced-outage status Thursday. Unit No. 5 was curtailed by 115 MW while No. 6 was off line entirely. Each unit has a capacity of 175 MW. By Friday No. 5 was running but No. 6 remained off line.

SP15 started out the week at between 48.50 mills and 54 mills/KWh for peak delivery. Off-peak power at the hub was trading at just about 30 mills/KWh. By Wednesday, peak power was moving as high at 65.50 mills KWh, with off-peak trades being conducted in the 36 mills to 39 mills/KWh range. The price of peak power for weekend delivery at the hub ticked down to the 59.50 mills to 61.75 mills/KWh range. Four Corners prices started the week in the high forties, peaked at about 60 mills/KWh midweek, and ranged between 54.50 mills and 60 mills/KWh on Thursday [Shauna O'Donnell].

Natural Gas Storage Figures Boost Supply Optimism-For Now

Suppliers diligently squirreled away 127 Bcf of natural gas during the week ending June 20, said the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration this week. The significant boost in storage inventories helped allay the concerns of market watchers that have been tracking the historically low amount of gas in storage. Warnings abound that the situation is still serious, but Secretary of Energy commented that the release of the EIA figures for gas socked away last week is "positive news."

The inventory boost included 78 Bcf in the East, 11 Bcf in the West and 38 Bcf at the producing basins. The injections brought the total amount of gas in storage to 1,565 Bcf.

Prices at all hubs moved in fairly predictable fashion this week, keeping to the range seen for Western natural gas spot buys in the last few weeks.

San Juan Basin gas was trading for between $4.76/MMBtu and $5.12/MMBtu on Monday, slide downward in the middle of the week, but recovered to the $4.90 to $5.05/MMBtu range for weekend deliveries. Alberta gas dipped down to $4.72/MMBtu on Friday while Topock gas closed the week at close to $5.30/MMBtu [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of June 30-July 3, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.72-480 10.34-73.47
Mid-Columbia 38-54.50 28-38
COB 40.75-59.50 37-37.50
NP 15 44-63 29-41
SP 15 48.50-65.60 29.25-39
Palo Verde 45-63 26-37

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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