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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
June 28, 2013
The Heat Is On: Power Prices Soar

Average prices for Western peak power ignored the lagging natural gas market and soared between $19/MW and $62/MW in Thursday-to-Friday trading as hot temperatures entered the region.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid was expected to reach 44,871 MW on Friday and 45,494 MW on Monday, July 1.

Northwest Power Pool peak demand reached 54,889 MW Thursday, the week's high.

In Friday-to-Friday trading, June 21 to June 28, here's how average peak prices at Western hubs fared:

  • Mid-Columbia: Rose $21.65 to $51.20/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up $29.75 to $62.
  • North of Path 15: Gained $34.30 to $72.05.
  • South of Path 15: Soared $34.70 to $76.05.
  • Palo Verde: Gained $47.25 to $83.20.

Off-peak prices were mixed in midweek trading. Off-peak values June 28 ranged from $13.70/MWh at Mid-C to $38 at SP15.

Confounding the supply picture throughout the West is the absence of nuclear generation. Apart from SONGS, both the Diablo Canyon and Columbia nuclear plants have been constrained this week.

Diablo's Unit No. 1, which produces 1,100 MW, was safely shut down June 25 after a boric-acid leak was discovered on the residual heat system, said Tom Cuddy, Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson. There is no estimated time for a return to service, he said, as "safe operation of the plant" remains the utility's focus.

The Columbia Generating Station began returning to operation June 23 after being off line for scheduled refueling and maintenance. The unit was operating at 65 percent of capacity June 28, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Solar power in the Cal-ISO region has been exceeding 2,100 MW during peak hours, while wind has contributed more than 3,100 MW during off-peak.

Working gas in storage reached 2,533 Bcf as of Friday, June 21, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 95 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 17.1 percent less than a year ago and 1.2 percent below the five-year average.

Henry Hub natural gas values dropped 27 cents since last Friday, trading June 28 at $3.57/MMBtu. Western prices also fell, with Malin gas losing 19 cents to $3.41/MMBtu and PG&E CityGate dropping 12 cents, trading at $3.73/MMBtu. Southern California Border shed 5 cents to $3.67/MMBtu by Friday.

Enerfax noted that gas prices may be falling because of eight consecutive weeks of above-average injections into storage, plus steady supplies through the last several months. In addition, weather forecasts suggest that natural gas demand may remain constrained in the coming weeks.

What's ahead: High temperatures are expected to continue early in the week throughout the West, with Los Angeles in the 90s and Portland reaching 96 °F. Inland California cities should break the century mark. Red Bluff should see 110 °F Tuesday, while Bakersfield is forecast to reach 111 °F.

Above-normal temperatures are expected from Washington to Southern California between July 3 and July 11, according to the National Weather Service [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End:June 24 - 28, 2013
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.08-999 9.34-44.46
Mid-Columbia 29.50-76 9-26.50
COB 32.25-85 12.50-31.75
NP 15* 39.50-76 29.30-42
SP 15* 42.25-80 29.55-46
Palo Verde 35.75-90 23.25-32.25

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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