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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
July 23, 2010
Electricity Prices Cool With Weather

After oppressively hot temperatures throughout the West, both weather and power prices cooled in the region this week.

Despite a strong start, average peak prices lost ground as the week progressed. Only the Northwestern hubs posted nominal improvements versus July 16 prices.

Mid-Columbia daytime prices traded at $41.33/MWh on Friday -- $2.23 more than the July 16 price. COB peak values experienced similar gains with daytime power for the hub trading at an average price of $45.05/MWh Friday, a gain of about $1.70 compared to the July 16 price.

California prices saw the most significant losses this week, with daytime prices at South of Path 15 hit harder than the other Western hubs. The July 23 average price of $43.25/MWh was a loss of almost $7 versus the previous Friday. Average prices at North of Path 15 ended the week at $42.44/MWh, off about $3 from July 16.

At Palo Verde, by Friday, July 23 the average peak price was $42.40/MWh, $4 less than the previous Friday's average price. The hub had the highest spot price among all Western hubs at $49.50/MWh.

Nighttime average prices at all Western hubs managed to stay between $32 and $34/MWh.

At SP15 and NP15, off-peak electricity average prices stayed between $33 and $34/MWh compared with the $36.60 to $45.40/MWh range posted the week ending July 16.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached a 40,357 MW high Monday at 4 p.m. Demand did not exceed 38,000 MW the remainder of the week.

Cal-ISO reports that California energy use is 4 percent less compared to this same period in July. The grid operator attributed the low energy use to colder weather, particularly the record lows in the Bay Area.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a 51 Bcf addition to natural gas reserves provided a total of 2.891 Tcf in storage as of July 16. This addition was 19 Bcf less than a 70 Bcf injection last year at this time. The EIA said that although inventories have exceeded the five-year average for 17 consecutive weeks, the surplus relative to the five-year average has decreased for a fifth consecutive week.

Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.70/MMBtu on July 21, up 31 cents from the preceding Wednesday, according to the EIA. Spot prices hardly moved by Friday.

August futures for natural gas at the hub traded at $4.51/MMBtu on July 21, a 5 percent increase over the previous Wednesday's price. Futures came in at $4.58 on Friday.

What's ahead: Cooler West Coast temperatures are forecast for the start of the week thanks to an upper low. This system is expected to bring onshore flow and seasonally normal weather to Washington and Oregon throughout the week. But the same system will suppress temperatures in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, according to the National Weather Service. Southern California should begin warming Wednesday and Thursday [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: July 19 - 23, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 14.88-622.15 13.94-55.99
Mid-Columbia 35.05-43.75 23.50-33.25
COB 40.25-46 26-33.25
NP 15* 39.55-44.75 27.60-34
SP 15* 39.75-47.25 27-33.75
Palo Verde 39-49.50 26.05-35

* 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.

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

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