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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
July 3, 2008
Power Prices Higher on Warm Weather, Holiday Weekend

Western electricity prices generally ended the week higher on warm weather and an erratic trading schedule. Trading this week has been condensed because of the July Fourth holiday on Friday. Power for Friday and Saturday was bought and sold on Wednesday, while electricity for Sunday and Monday was traded Friday.

Daytime prices uniformly fell on Wednesday because the peak block was for Saturday power. Nighttime prices were the complete opposite and rose because the off-peak block was for Friday and Saturday night electricity. On Friday, power blocks switched to their usual schedule.

At the Mid-Columbia hub, peak prices ended the week $19 lower at an average of $52.86/MWh. From Tuesday to Wednesday, prices lost $56 to average $23.64/MWh. Average off-peak values rose throughout the week, hitting $6.67/MWh, up $5.

Daytime California-Oregon border prices settled at an average of $65.86/MWh, $19 lower than on Monday. From Tuesday to Wednesday, peak trades lost $44 to $37.28. Nighttime prices closed up $7 at an average of $24.20/MWh.

In California, average prime values rose $3 in the north to $133.25/MWh and $2 to $133.83/MWh in the south. Prices shed the most ground on Wednesday, dropping about $30 each. Average off-prime values gained $15 to $86.15/MWh in the north and $86.51/MWh in the south. Trades had been climbing until Thursday when they shed about $1.

Palo Verde prime power climbed $5 to an average of $138.89/MWh.Trades lost $29 Wednesday to $106.91, then gained it all back on Thursday. Average off-prime prices increased $5 to $77.11/MWh. They had risen through Wednesday to $83.82, only to fall $6 on Thursday.

Over 1,700 lightning-ignited fires burning across California have scorched more than 505,000 acres and destroyed over 60 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. A fire Thursday near Santa Barbara threatened a 230 kV line owned by Southern California Edison. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered National Guard troops to help, and they should be in place by Monday.

Firefighters likely won't get a break this weekend. A dip in the jet stream could produce more dry thunderstorms and lightning, AccuWeather said.

Thunderstorms and cooler temperatures also rode the jetstream dip into the Northwest on Friday. In Seattle, temperatures are expected to remain in the mid- to low 70s, while Portland will enjoy high 70s to low 80s. The California coast will continue to see mild temperatures, with San Francisco in the high 60s and Los Angeles in the mid-80s. Phoenix and Palm Springs, however, will continue to cook in triple-digit heat.

Demand on the California grid has gradually ramped up from 38,700 MW on Monday to 39,400 MW on Wednesday. Demand was expected to hit 41,200 MW on Friday, according to the California Independent System Operator.

The West's major nuclear facilities are running at close to full capacity to meet increased demand, though the Columbia Generating Station was still at 85 percent to accommodate spring runoff [Kristina Shevory].

Gas Prices Down on Holiday

Natural gas prices fell uniformly across the major West Coast hubs this week as traders cashed in their positions ahead of the holiday weekend. Prices lost 20 cents to $1.60 on average, ending the week between $10.21/MMBtu at San Juan and $12.20/MMBtu at Pacific Gas & Electric's CityGate.

Supplies of natural gas climbed by 85 Bcf to 2.118 Tcf, leaving stockpiles about 15 percent lower than a year ago and almost 3 percent less than the five-year average, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. Cooler weather kept the injection nearly even with last year and the five-year average. Less gas is going into storage because of expected high temperatures this summer and a small price differential between summer and winter gas. The Henry Hub benchmark price for August power closed at $13.38 Friday, while December gas settled at $14.11.

In the West, stocks bumped up by 10 Bcf to 299 Bcf. Supplies are nearly 20 percent lower than last year and 8 percent lower than the five-year average [K. S.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: June 30 - July 3, 2008
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.05 - 999.97 7.60 - 120.29
Mid-Columbia 8 - 85 0 - 15
COB 16 - 98 8 - 40.25
NP 15 97 - 150 63 - 90.50
SP 15 97 - 170 63.25 - 95
Palo Verde 102 - 150.50 66 - 85.25

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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