Western Price Survey / Archives
July 27, 2001
Unlike other parts of the North American continent, where summer heat and humidity are propelling record loads and system alerts, the Western region continued its third week of steady-state demand and relatively stable prices.
Trading was light at most hubs. "We're not interested in buying and it's not worth selling," was how one trader summed up the week.
"Generation is healthy and everything looks good," said another from the Southwest perspective.
There was a slight bump upward in Northwestern prices Tuesday on word of an outage at Colstrip and news that the Columbia Generating Station would go offline for a week of unscheduled repairs. But price increases stopped shy of 70 mills/KWh at most locations in California and the Northwest.
Palo Verde prices had also risen to about 70 mills on expectations of heat, but they, too, fell to the same 61 mills to 69 mills/KWh range seen throughout the West. "It's hot but not screaming hot," said one trader.
Loads on the California Independent System Operator's charts were running a bit higher than last week, hitting the 35,800 MW mark Thursday, but Cal-ISO kept a comfortable reserve margin of 4,000 MW to 5,000 MW through the day, even as imports diminished.
The operators at Columbia Generating Station took the plant offline late on Thursday and expect it to be out of service for a week as they replace leaky seals on a recirculating pump assembly. If the weather remains moderate as expected, the absence may not be noticed, even though Bonneville Power Administration began spilling water at The Dalles and Bonneville Dam to aid fish migrations.
Transmission repairs on the Pacific Intertie system limited capacity all week. Mostly there were minor derations, but the DC Intertie will go to zero for part of the day Saturday, July 28 and again on August 4. Much of the rest of the time, there will be flow limits of 1,956 MW southbound and 1,904 MW northbound on the DC line.
The Alberta Power Pool was a bit jumpy early on-up to 100 mills/KWh at peak and down as low as 7.68 mills/KWh at night. Later in the week, the pool settled in at 40 mills to 41.75 mills/KWh, as daytime loads kept well below 7,000 MW [Arthur O'Donnell].
Midwest Draws from Western Supplies
The major action in natural gas markets was due to hot weather in regions other than the west, this week. As Chicago and Eastern Seaboard markets got hot and sticky, consumers turned to air conditioners and power generators turned to the supply basins of Texas and Canada for fuel.
While Permian and Alberta basin prices moved upward, the California market was listless. Topock dropped by nearly $1/MMBtu to the $3.58/MMBtu level Thursday and San Juan crept up slightly to $2.67MMBtu in sympathy to Permian prices, which moved up to $3.24/MMBtu.
Malin was steady at $3.08 and the San Francisco CityGate varied between $3.30 and $3.50/MMBtu.
"The West is doing its own thing," one trader remarked after a national rise in benchmark prices met with yawns on the coast.
"There's plenty of gas in the pipes to burn," said another.
The Alberta price had risen from $(C)3.25 to $3.55/Gigajoule before easing back to $3.42/Gj by the end of the week [A. O'D.].
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