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Western Price Survey / Archives

July 28, 2000
Emergencies Subside but More Hot Weather is in Forecast

The California market experienced two more consecutive days of system emergencies early in the week, but things seemed to calm down considerably by Thursday-a day that was notable for having no alerts, "no touch day" notices or other such market declarations from the California Independent System Operator.

Still, real-time energy prices bumped up against the $500/MW Cal-ISO ceiling with regularity and peak hour clearing prices at the California Power Exchange often rose above 400 mills/KWh, even if loads were not extreme.

Hot weather continued in Arizona, where utilities set sequential peak demand records. Salt River Project on Wednesday hit 5,002 MW, it fifth new record so far this summer. Arizona Public Service reached its latest in a series of new benchmarks on Monday at 5,460 MW. Tucson Electric also set a new record at 1,852 MW on Thursday afternoon.

While the CalPX index prices bounced around in broad range between 233 mills to 313 mills/KWh for daytime energy and 61 mills to 68.8 mills/KWh for off-peak power, the trend at bilateral hubs was softening-not plummeting-from the very high price plateaus from which they began the week.

Northern California and Pacific Northwest prices finally slipped below 200 mills/KWh on Thursday. Palo Verde was still seen in the 240 mills to 260 mills/KWh range, that that was much more reasonable than the 325 mills/KWh mark established Monday. By Friday/Saturday deliveries, off-peak energy prices were seen at 63 mills to 68 mills/KWh at Mid- Columbia, 65 mills to 70 mills/KWh at the California/Oregon Border and 62 mills/KWh at Palo Verde.

Cal-ISO almost escaped declaring a Stage One Alert on Tuesday, but for a transmission line outage in Oregon that seemed to push it over the edge. Though the Bonneville Power Administration disclaimed direct responsibility for California's problems, the outage on the 230 KV Pearl/Marion line did cause temporary deration of the Pacific AC Intertie and curtailment of 150 MW of power deliveries, BPA said. The transmission line outage was restored in about an hour and a half.

The California Stage One-Cal-ISO's 11th of the season-did not last as long as anticipated, ending an hour early on Tuesday evening.

Aside from a minor drop in output at San Onofre No. 3 to 95 percent of capacity on Wednesday and a repair outage for Navajo No. 3, the biggest resource problem reported this week was at Four Corners No. 5. The 770 MW unit had problems reaching full capacity after repeated trips, and so operators have decided to carry it at half capacity until an extended outage can be scheduled when market conditions are more favorable.

That might not be soon. Another round of high pressure is creeping over California and forecasters told Cal-ISO to expect hot temperatures beginning over the weekend and possibly lasting into Tuesday [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Storage Figures Bullish, but Prices Less So

The national market turned on news that barely 54 Bcf of natural gas was injected into storage this week, rather than the 70 Bcf anticipated by analysts. However, that news only resulted in a slight uptick in gas prices following the American Gas Association's weekly storage report. "Wednesday is always a day of surprises," one trader noted.

Perhaps some viewed the low injection rate as old news, reflecting last week's hot weather in Texas, which has more or less subsided. Closer to California, though, continued demand for electric power generation, spurred by high energy prices if not record loads, brought yet another low-inventory OFO on the PG&E pipeline system Tuesday.

The prime movers in Western markets were Topock at the Southern California Border and the PG&E CityGate, which both responded mightily to the NYMEX trends by dropping more than $0.10/MMBtu points midweek before edging up again. SoCal Border ended around $4.55/MMBtu and CityGate was seen between $4.35 and $4.44/MMbtu on Thursday.

San Juan fell into a $3.55 rut and Permian varied between $3.80 and $3.83/MMBtu, traders said.

The Alberta index followed a trend of its own, moving consistently higher through the week to close at $4.24/Gigajoule [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of July 24-28, 2000
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 47-560 43-58
California PX (WAC) 233-313 61.3-68.8
Mid-Columbia 175-245 65-68
COB 180-260 62-70
Palo Verde 240-325 62-70

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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