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Western Price Survey / Archives

July 2, 2004
No Fireworks in Laggardly Western Power Market

Power traders across the land were preparing for the Independence Day holiday this week, moving power in packages of two--two days' worth, that is. Because Monday, July 5, is a holiday, trading for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week was conducted on Monday, while Thursday-Friday packages were exchanged on Wednesday. Weekend and early-next-week power changed hands on Thursday.

The minor shakeup in the schedule of trading may have been the only bit of excitement in the trading biz this week, as low demand, healthy power plants and seasonal weather turned trading for electricity into a fairly ho-hum affair. The prices paid for power on the spot market this week practically mirrored the cost of the commodity last week.

At the Mid-Columbia hub, peak power opened the week at between 41.25 mills and 43.50 mills/KWh, managed to skip up to a high of 45.50 mills/KWh on Tuesday, but sagged back into the low forties the following day. Low-demand power exhibited a bit more life as the week wore on, trading in the 36 to 37 mills/KWh range midweek after opening at a low of 30 mills/KWh on Monday.

California-Oregon Border power prices could not manage to break through the 50 mills/KWh glass ceiling this week. Daytime power on the next-day market drew as much as 49.50 mills/KWh but would rise no further. Off-peak power at the hub attracted between 34 mills and 36.50 mills/KWh in early-week trading. Power for the coming weekend moved for 38 mills to 38.75 mills/KWh.

Further south, the difference between prices in Northern California and Southern California was negligible. Both NP15 and SP15 peak power opened the week between 51.75 mills and 52.75 mills/KWh before rising by 3 to 5 mills on Tuesday. By Wednesday, NP15 power had dropped down to 49 mills/KWh for some deals, while SP15 kept to the low fifties. Low-demand power at the northern hub showed a bit of strength relative to its southern neighbor early in the week, trading for between 36 mills and 39 mills/KWh. Weekend power at the hub drew up to 42.50 mills/KWh. SP15 off-peak power changed hands for 36.50 mills/KWh on Tuesday, but slipped down to 32 mills/KWh the following day. Weekend deliveries did manage to rally somewhat, skipping up to as much as 42 mills/KWh in late-week trading.

Southwestern power at the Palo Verde hub opened the week in the range of 49.50 mills to 51.50 mills/KWh. The price tacked on another 3 or 4 mills for power delivered Wednesday, but then hit a low of 47.25 mills/KWh for Thursday deliveries. Off-peak power costs barely registered any movement in the early part of the week, staying within the narrow range of 31 mills to 32.50 mills/KWh each day. The prospect of the upcoming long weekend did provoke PV power up to a range of 37.25 mills and 39.25 mills/KWh later in the week.

Power supplies had no trouble keeping up with demand this week. Aside from Columbia Generating Station, which opened the week at 65 percent of capacity output, all Western nuclear units were healthy this week. By Thursday, Columbia was back at full power as well. Other generating facilities were also in fine fettle this week, with very few units down for unscheduled reasons. Pacific Gas & Electric's 163 MW Hunters Point Unit No. 4 was off line much of the week on a forced outage, while AES' 226 MW Huntington Beach Unit No. 3 was on a planned outage until Thursday. Many other facilities in the California Independent System Operator control area were curtailed somewhat, but not enough to affect power availability [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Slips on Crude Dips

Natural gas prices slipped this week on the drop in crude oil prices. After spending a number of weeks threatening to exceed $6.00/MMBtu at both the producing basins and Western delivery hubs, the price for gas on the spot market went on a downward slide throughout this week.

At the Alberta hub, natural gas drew $5.24/MMBtu at the beginning of the week before fading to $4.86/MMBtu on Friday. Permian basin gas followed the same pattern, starting off the week trading for between $5.55 and $5.75/MMBtu before dropping to a low of $5.16/MMBtu at the end of the week.

The Energy Information Administration recorded an injection into underground storage of 93 Bcf last week, bringing the total up to a healthy 1,938 Bcf [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
June 28 - July 2, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 19.01-483 10.35-79.22
Mid-Columbia 41.25-45.50 30-37
COB 43.50-49.50 34-36.50
NP 15 49-54.5 36-39
SP 15 50.50-57 32-36.50
Palo Verde 47.25-55 31-32.50

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


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