Western Price Survey / Archives
July 20, 2001
Except for a brief excursion to the federal price cap level midweek, power markets fell into the mid-30s to mid-40s across the West and hung there into the weekend. Palo Verde was at the top of the peak tier at 41 mills to 44 mills/KWh but at the bottom for off-peak pricing at as low as 19 mills/KWh. All other points were in between, with Mid-Columbia and California hubs reporting only shades of price differences in a relatively tight range between 37.7 mills and 39.25 mills/KWh. The Northwest had the higher off-peak prices in the 24 mills to 27 mills/KWh range while California points were down in the 22 mills to 24 mills/KWh range.
Peak loads reported by Cal-ISO were not much above 32,000 MW at peak and there was a healthy surplus of capacity even though the unit- outage numbers were creeping higher. Midweek the major outages were mostly in Southern California, with El Segundo, Etiwanda and the new Sunrise station all experiencing planned or unplanned outages. The big unexpected outage in Northern California was at the 682 MW Pittsburg No. 7 unit.
A 185 MW Four Corners unit was out earlier in the week, as was the Palo Verde No. 2, which experienced steam problems last Friday and was taken down. While that unit returned to full service Tuesday, No. 3 was having some turbine bearing vibrations that reduced output to 97 percent as operators monitored the situation.
Weather is expected to remain fairly moderate through the end of next week, when a hot spell is projected over the desert [Arthur O'Donnell].
Gas Markets Offer a Mixed Bag
With no real news or firm sense of direction, natural gas prices were both up and down this week, depending on the hub. Part of the reason was the continued moderate weather throughout the West, and part of the reason was the continued increase in storage levels nationally. With benchmark prices low and no strong demand for generation, the only place to put the supplies was into storage, and the American Gas Association said that another 110 Bcf went into the ground last week. The national average for storage is at 62 percent of capacity.
Some basin prices eroded, while others firmed up, Hot weather in the mid-section of the country drew Texas gas supplies to electric generators, and the Permian Basin price moved up from $3.04/MMBtu to $3.15/MMBtu. SoCal Topock moved in sympathy, from $3.68 to just a shade above $4.00/MMBtu, but the San Juan Basin headed lower to $2.35/MMBtu.
Also at the low end of the market was the Malin price, in the $2.60 to $2.72/MMBtu range. The price was so low traders had to double-check their screens to make certain it was not a mistake.
Alberta prices languished in the $3.33 to $3.38/Gigajoule range most of the week [A. O'D.].
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