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Western Price Survey

July 15, 2005
California Prices Rise, Supply Meets Load. . . For Now

The California Independent System Operator forecast it would set a new peak-time demand record of 46,182 MW on Thursday afternoon, exceeding the record set last September by more than 500 MW. The ISO’s efforts paid off while the weather cooled slightly that day, however, and peak load remained below the 45,000 MW mark Thursday. Friday peak load was forecast to hit 44,833 MW, but the “Flex Your Power NOW!” campaign remained in effect.

California was not the only state in the West to feel the power pinch during the past two weeks. Southwest utilities such as PNM, Nevada Power and Salt River Project all recorded new peak-demand records recently. The southern portion of Nevada has been particularly hard hit by a heat wave this week. Las Vegas temperatures have been in the triple digits throughout the week, topping out at 113 degrees Wednesday, just a few degrees shy of the all-time record of 117 degrees set in 1942. Friday’s temperature in the city was a relatively cooler 103 degrees.

As would be expected, high temperatures and rising demand bolstered the price of next-day power . Southwest power costs led the charge much of the week, but California costs took the lead on Friday.

On Thursday, Palo Verde daytime power prices topped out at 96.50 mills/KWh for weekend deliveries, after trading in the 80s most of the week. Off-peak power attracted between 36.25 mills and 46.50 mills/KWh during the first half of the week before soaring to a high of 60 mills/KWh in Friday trading.

With a heat wave blanketing much of California, there was little to distinguish the price of power in Northern California from that in the southern portion of the state. After hitting a high of 82.25 mills/KWh in Tuesday trading, the price of peak-time power south of Path 15 slipped to be-tween 74 mills and 78.50 mills/KWh at midweek. Power costs really took off on Friday, when deliv-eries scheduled for next week traded for as much as 107.95 mills/KWh at SP15.

Off-peak power in SP15 drew in the low to mid-40s during the early part of the week, moving down to 39 mills/KWh on Wednesday. By the end of the week the cost of off-peak power had charged up to between 52 mills and 60.25 mills/KWh.

NP15 daytime power traded for as much as 105 mills/KWh this week, reaching that mark on Friday after trading mostly in the vicinity of 80 mills/KWh earlier in the week. Off-peak power at NP15 generally moved for between 39.25 mills and 46 mills/KWh this week. Anticipation of con-tinuing hot weather and high demand pushed the cost up to 60 mills/KWh on Friday.

Mid-Columbia prices this week exceeded last week’s by more than 20 mills. While the peak-time high at Mid-C last week was 51 mills/KWh, the price this week maxed out at 75 mills/KWh on Friday. Nighttime power at Mid-C traded for between 31 mills and 37.25 mills/KWh during the week before following the trend and escalating on Friday. Off-peak power costs at Mid-C hit 52 mills/KWh that day.

Unit No. 3 at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant is back in operation after being forced off line last week. The unit generates 1,247 MW. The three-unit Palo Verde facility, with a total capacity of well over 3,000 MW, supplies power to the Southwest, but also eases the supply crunch in Southern California Edison territory, as that utility owns about 15 percent of the generating station [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Costs Rise with Power Demand

Volatile and unpredictable pricing of spot-market natural gas remained the norm this week. Hurricane season, the cost of crude oil and electricity generators’ demand for gas all continued to put upward pressure on gas costs.

With power plants in the West demanding an increasing amount of gas as the week wore on, prices for California deliveries steadily rose. The price of gas at the Southern California hub at To-pock went from a low of $6.45/MMBtu Monday up to $7.36/MMBtu in Thursday trading. Malin gas costs also sloped upward over the course of the week. Deals done for $6.38/MMBtu at the beginning of the week settled for as much as $7.38 toward the end of the week [S. O'D].

Western Electricity Prices
July 11 - 15, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.13-230.37 10.51-62.33
Mid-Columbia 53.25-75 31-52
COB 60-80 35-56
NP 15 73.25-105 38.75-60
SP 15 72-107.95 39-60.25
Palo Verde 72.25-95 36.25-60

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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