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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
July 11, 2008
Power Prices Chill Out, Following Weather and Cheaper Natural Gas

Electricity prices generally ignored a heat wave and high demand in parts of the West and followed natural gas prices lower this week.

A heat wave and fires prompted the California Independent System Operator to declare a Flex Alert on Monday. Cooler temperatures and conservation, however, kept electricity use lower than expected. Demand hit a peak of 44,700 MW on Tuesday and then stayed around 43,500 MW for the rest of the week, according to the Cal-ISO.

Cal-ISO stated that the fires did not affect any transmission lines. However, thousands of Southern California Edison residents experienced fire-related blackouts early in the week from distribution lines scorched by the Gap Fire near Santa Barbara.

In California, average prime trades shed $39 over the week to about $110 at North of Path 15 and South of Path 15. Prices tumbled $48 through Thursday to $101 but added $9 on Friday. Off-prime trades for the week, however, added nearly $2 in the north and $3 in the south, averaging around $82.50 on Friday.

Palo Verde daytime power tumbled $46 this week to an average of $100.28/MWh. Prices had sank Thursday to an average of $89.35 before rising $11 on Friday. Nighttime prices increased $8 over Monday's opening price to an average of $79.25/MWh.

At the California-Oregon border, average peak prices ended the week $9 higher. Off-peak prices climbed steadily throughout the week, adding $38.

Daytime values at the Mid-Columbia hub rose $13 from Monday to average $81.47/MWh. Nighttime values made solid gains each day before settling Friday at around $60.49/MWh, up $55.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across California, and have destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses and outbuildings while scorching over 752,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters won't get a break from dry, hot weather this weekend in northern California. High pressure off the coast will continue to funnel hot air into the state and Northwest, AccuWeather said. A monsoon flow will bring flash flooding to the Southwest and Southern California, while Northern California is expected to get another round of dry thunderstorms.

Temperatures are expected to creep into the low 80s in Los Angeles and the high 90s in Phoenix. Sunny skies and warmer weather was expected in the Northwest today and Saturday, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees in Portland before falling 10 degrees Sunday. Seattle will see 81 degrees in Saturday before cooling a bit into next week.

The West's major nuclear plants were running at nearly 100 percent capacity, including the Columbia Generating Station in Washington State, which had been operating at below capacity to compensate for the high spring runoff.

Electricity consumption this summer is projected to be even with last year, the Energy Information Administration said in its short-term energy outlook (see story at [19]) [Kristina Shevory].

Natural Gas Falls on Cool Weather, Lower Demand

Natural gas prices eased this week on moderate weather, reduced demand and Hurricane Bertha becoming less a threat after veering off into the North Atlantic. The Henry Hub benchmark price for August power ended the week at $11.85/Mcf, versus $13.38 last Friday. Average prices in the West also finished lower, ranging from $9.77/MMBtu at San Juan to $11.38/MMBtu at Pacific Gas & Electric's City Gate hub.

Across the country, natural gas in storage climbed 90 Bcf to 2.208 Tcf, the EIA reported. The injection leaves stockpiles 15 percent below last year and 3 percent less than the five-year average.

Western storage added 15 Bcf to reach 314 Bcf, nearly 18 percent lower than last year and 7 percent less than the five-year average [K. S.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: July 7 - 11, 2008
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.81 - 102.13 7.60 - 108.80
Mid-Columbia 55 - 100 1 - 69
COB 75 - 137 25.75 - 75
NP 15 99 - 160 65 - 86
SP 15 97 - 161 64 - 85.75
Palo Verde 85.50 - 160 58 - 85

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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