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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
July 22, 2011
Western Prices Stable Despite Pressure

The West remained generally unfazed by high temperatures that sent energy prices up elsewhere in the country this week. While average daytime power prices at some Eastern hubs exceeded $100/MWh Wednesday, prices at California hubs remained in the $40 to $45/MWh range through Friday.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 39,702 MW on July 20, the week's high. The system operator expects demand to reach 40, 000 MW Monday, July 25. Elsewhere, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) on July 20 reached historically high demand of 103,975 MW. Rolling blackouts were reportedly needed in areas of Detroit and some other Midwest cities to cope with grid pressures.

Platts noted that despite oppressive temperatures, "much of the country seems to be well-supplied with electricity, despite facing heavy demand to run air conditioners." Wholesale power prices have risen, but remain relatively low, leading Platts' analysts to suspect demand response may be contributing to "keeping a lid on prices."

Western natural gas prices experienced modest gains for yet another week. By Friday, July 22, Southern California Border gas earned 10 cents, closing at $4.43/MMBtu. Malin values were up 7 cents compared to July 15 prices, closing at $4.30/MMBtu.

Working natural gas in storage rose to 2.671 Tcf by Friday, July 15, after a 60 Bcf net injection, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This storage amount was 213 Bcf less than the previous year and 59 Bcf less than the five-year average, according to the agency.

Western average peak-power prices generally gained a few dollars in the Friday-to-Friday trading period from July 15 to July 22:

  • Mid-C: Gained $3.15 to around $36.50/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up about $2.45 to $40.40/MWh.
  • NP15: Earned almost $1.15, to about $39.90/MWh.
  • SP15: Gained $1.95, ending at roughly $43.30/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Lost 20 cents, closing at about $44.25/MWh.

Prices for off-peak power also gained a few dollars over the trading period, with the exception of NP15, which lost roughly $3.25 in three days' trading. Average prices at California hubs rose to between $26 and almost $29/MWh by Friday while Northwestern hubs' prices jumped, nearing the $20/MWh mark (see chart).

The Bonneville Power Administration's periodic curtailment of non-hydro generation appears to be ending. The agency has posted no reports since July 10. Its curtailment total remains unchanged: 97,557 MWh of generation has been cut since May 18.

What's ahead: Seattle and Portland expect cool, cloudy weather during the week with temperatures in the 70s. A high-pressure system should boost San Francisco temperatures a bit at midweek. Los Angeles will experience some cooling Tuesday and Wednesday, with warmer weather predicted sometime Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's August-through-October forecast stated temperatures should remain below normal throughout the Western U.S. [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: July 18 - 22, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 14.47-941.53 13.03-31.45
Mid-Columbia 22-38.50 (-)0.25-23
COB 32.50-42 4.50-24.50
NP 15* 36.95-40.25 14-26
SP 15* 38.50-43.75 15.25-29.25
Palo Verde 41-51 17.75-29.25

* 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.

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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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