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Western Price Survey

July 29, 2005
Western Prices Ease Downward as Month Closes

Southern California power scheduled for daytime delivery attracted between 65 mills and 78 mills/KWh this week, with the low recorded on Wednesday. The high mark was met at both the beginning and end of the week. Off-peak power prices south of Path 15 ranged from a high of 47.25 mills/KWh--tagged for next Monday deliveries--to a low of 41.75 mills/KWh in midweek dealings.

In Northern California, traders reported moving power for a high of 73.50 mills/KWh on Monday, a far cry from last week's figure of 111.25 mills/KWh. NP15 peak power dropped to about 65 mills/KWh on Wednesday, when weekend deals were being struck. Power packages moved for as much as 76.25 mills/KWh on Friday.

The atypical trading schedule--in which Tuesday exchanges were penciled for both Wednesday and Thursday deliveries, midweek trades were scheduled for Friday and Saturday delivery, Thursday deals were struck for Sunday supplies and Friday's session was conducted for power to be delivered next Monday--was attributed to the fact that next Monday marks the beginning of August. In order to avoid trading across months, power dealers pushed up the schedule so as to keep July deals together and start August separately.

Palo Verde peak-power prices managed to hit 71 mills/KWh during the early part of the week, but mostly treaded water in the upper sixties until Friday, when the cost scooted up to between 70 mills and 73 mills/KWh. Off-peak power costs stuck fairly close to the California price, vacillating between being just under the 40 mills/KWh mark and just above it.

California-Oregon border power costs took their cue from the Golden State, shedding anywhere between 10 and 25 mills off last week's daytime price. Peak power at COB topped out at 70 mills/KWh this week, while off-peak power drew between 38 mills and 45.25 mills/KWh.

Peak-power prices at the Mid-Columbia trading hub opened on Monday in a range of 60 mills to 64 mills/KWh. Slippage occurred over the following three days, and by Thursday the cost of daytime power was as low as 52.50 mills/KWh. Still, as with other trades made that day, prices recorded for Mid-C transactions on Thursday were somewhat anomalous, as they were pegged for around-the-clock packages for Sunday delivery. The low-demand spread at the hub ranged from 36 mills on Wednesday to 45.25 mills at the end of the week.

In other news, former California Independent System Operator President and Chief Executive Officer Terry Winter has been appointed CEO of American Superconductor Corporation. He will oversee the company's AMSC Wires, SuperMachines and Power Electronic Systems business units from the company's headquarters in Westborough, Massachusetts.

Before joining American Superconductor in 2004 as executive vice president, Winter led Cal-ISO. He departed the system operator somewhat abruptly last summer following an announcement by the Cal-ISO board of governors that both Winter and Vice President Elena Schmid were resigning [Shauna O'Donnell and Caroline J. Keough].

Gas-Storage Reporting Revisions to Begin Next Week, Says EIA

The price of gas in the West dipped in response to softening demand in the electricity-generating market this week. As temperatures in the region dropped and the heat wave on the East Coast broke, natural gas costs also lost their edge.

Southern California border gas deliveries were tagged at between $6.51 and $6.85/MMBtu this week. The high was recorded on Friday, when trades were made for Monday deliveries. Producing-basin gas at Permian cost as much as $7.35/MMBtu, a couple of dimes less than last week, but still fairly far above the price at any Western delivery hubs.

On Thursday, in tandem with its release of weekly natural gas storage numbers, the Energy Information Administration announced that it would be changing its sample and estimation methodology. The EIA said the changes would go into effect with next week's report. In addition, the federal office will release revised storage numbers for the weeks from June 17 to July 22 using the new methodology.

Under the new scheme, the sample pool of companies polled will expand from 56 to 63 firms. The differences in operation between salt-cavern storage and non-salt cavern storage companies in the producing basins has been incorporated in the revised statistical methodology. The monthly reports will reflect this change by delineating salt and non-salt figures. The weekly storage report will continue to be issued listing three regions or categories: East, West and Producing Basins.

This week's storage report showed 42 Bcf of natural gas was injected into underground storage last week, with 2 Bcf attributed to Western storage [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
July 25 - 29, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 8.87-216.26 9.52-53.99
Mid-Columbia 48-65 36-44.25
COB 53.75-70 38-45.25
NP 15 64.75-76.25 41.50-47.75
SP 15 65-78 41.75-44.75
Palo Verde 66-70.50 37-44

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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