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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
July 20, 2012
NW Runoff Could Stick Around to Fall; California Sees Higher Demand

Although spring runoff typically starts slowing at this time of year, off-peak power prices at Mid-Columbia continue to post negative values from surplus hydropower.

"This year there was record June precipitation north of the border and the water associated with that will continue to head south into September," said Bonneville Power Administration spokesman Doug Johnson. This is "a good example of how the shape of the runoff varies, sometimes significantly, year to year," he said.

More water will continue to be a challenge for the "foreseeable future," Johnson said. He added that the agency "may be able to avoid" curtailing more wind and thermal generation through its Oversupply Management Protocol, but that depends on how quickly warmer weather arrives and how widespread it becomes.

Last year BPA issued its final curtailment order on July 10, bringing its total for the year to 97,577 MWh.

This year, curtailments are running later into the season, although less power has been curtailed overall. On July 15 and 16 BPA curtailed 9,168 MWh, bringing the total for the year to date to 46,599 MWh.

As Northwest prices remained dampened by surplus hydro, California power prices rallied on Friday, gaining several dollars. Earlier in the week cooler weather, slack demand and ample power supplies sent average peak-power prices tumbling. But peak demand at Cal-ISO has been climbing, with 39,564 MW expected on Friday, July 20, and more than 40,000 MW expected Monday. Here's how average prices for Western peak power fared over the July 13-20 trading period:

  • Mid-Columbia: Lost $2.35 to about $22.75/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Dropped $2.45 to around $27.20/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Jumped $7.60 to $41.40.
  • North of Path 15: Gained roughly $4.85 to $34.
  • Palo Verde: Up about $2.70 to $34.35/MWh.

Average off-peak prices at Western hubs gained a dollar or two over the trading period, save for Mid-C which continued posting negative values. Off-peak prices Friday ranged from -35 cents/MWh at Mid-C to almost $26.95/MWh at SP15.

Working gas in storage reached 3,163 Bcf as of Friday, July 13, according to Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 28 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 19.2 percent higher than a year ago and 17.5 percent above the five-year average.

Western spot natural gas prices were up a few cents in Friday-to-Friday trading. Compared to the previous Friday, Henry Hub natural gas gained 4 cents, trading Friday at $3.02/MMBtu. In the West, Southern California Border and Malin rose 8 cents, ending at $2.94 and $2.79, respectively. PG&E CityGate gas was up 6 cents over the trading period, finishing at $3.03/MMBtu.

What's ahead: Starting Monday, July 23, partly cloudy skies are forecast for Los Angeles through Thursday with highs around 70 degrees. San Francisco expects mostly sunny weather with temperatures near 70 into Thursday. Warmer weather is expected in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle temperatures should climb from 65 degrees Monday, reaching 74 on Thursday. The Portland area should also warm as the week progresses, reaching an 80-degree high Tuesday and Wednesday with sunny skies [Linda Dailey Paulson].


Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: July 16 - 20, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 7.41-39.49 6.82-14.59
Mid-Columbia 12-25.50 (-)2-3
COB 17-28.50 4-20
NP 15* 26.25-34.75 18.75-24.50
SP 15* 30-41.75 20.50-27.50
Palo Verde 27-34.75 15.25-22.75

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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


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