Western Price Survey
July 26, 2013
Average peak prices for day-ahead electricity rose in every region of the United States in first-half 2013 compared to first-half 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in a July 23 update.
In the Northwest, a decline in precipitation reduced hydroelectric generation and made the region more dependent on gas-fired power than in the first half of 2012. That combination drove power prices 82 percent higher in the Northwest compared to the first half of 2012, the EIA reported.
In California, average peak prices jumped 59 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. The EIA attributed the increase to the continued outage of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Prices in the Northwest, however, at times have moved higher than SP15's in response to higher loads, and this week was no exception (see chart). Here's how average peak prices fared in the Friday-to-Friday trading period from July 19 to July 26:
Off-peak prices in the West dropped two to three dollars since July 19, finishing in the range of $25.50/MWh at Mid-C to $37.90/MWh at SP15. Palo Verde, however, was up $4.15 to $33.65/MWh.
Working gas in storage reached 2,786 Bcf as of Friday, July 19, according to EIA estimates, a net increase of 41 Bcf from the previous week. The addition to natural gas storage was less than expected and may be one of the smallest of this injection season, according to Enerfax.
Western gas prices moved lower in the Friday-to-Friday trading period, with Malin gas dropping roughly 21 cents to $3.51 and PG&E CityGate down 15 cents to $3.78 by July 26 (see table at right).
What's ahead: Below-normal temperatures are forecast for most of the nation and should soften demand and keep a lid on summer natural gas prices, Barclays analysts said in their weekly commodities report. Below-normal temperatures are expected in Washington and Arizona between July 31 and Aug. 4, according to the National Weather Service. Normal temperatures are forecast for California and Arizona during that period. From Aug. 2 through Aug. 8, Arizona is forecast to have above-normal temperatures [Linda Dailey Paulson].
Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.
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