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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
July 29, 2011
Prices Righting From Weather Extremes

In recent months, Western energy prices have been subject to the whims of extreme weather.

Natural gas prices throughout the United States were generally lower during the July 22-29 trading week, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration attributes to the Eastern heat wave ending. Over the July 22-29 trading period, PG&E CityGate gas lost 22 cents, closing at $4.42/MMBtu. Southern California Border gas lost 10 cents, closing at $4.33/MMBtu.

El Paso Corp.'s Ruby Pipeline began delivering gas to the Malin Hub Wednesday, July 27, following approval from FERC. The 680-mile, 1.5-Bcf-per-day-capacity pipeline transports natural gas from Opal, Wyo., to Malin, Ore.

The EIA states that the pipeline will send additional Rockies gas to the West Coast and may compete with Canadian imports.

In its initial trading day on the Intercontinental Exchange, Ruby-Malin gas traded at an average price of $4.20/MMBtu. By Friday, the hub posted an average price of $4/MMBtu.

Working natural gas in storage rose to 2.714 Tcf by Friday, July 22, after a 43 Bcf net injection, according to the EIA. This storage amount was 201 Bcf less than the previous year and 49 Bcf less than the five-year average, according to the agency. This is the third consecutive week that injection amounts have been below average.

After months spent suppressed by abundant hydro, Northwest power values have climbed out of negative territory. Overall, however, Western power prices continue to be pressured by abundant hydro and low electricity demand. Here's how prices fared over the July 22 to July 29 trading period:

  • Mid-C: Gained about $3.05 to around $39.55/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up $3.85 to $44.25/MWh.
  • NP15: Jumped about $4.80, trading at $44.75/MWh Friday after three days' trading.
  • SP15: Earned about $3.60, ending at almost $46.95/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Up $1.05, closing at around $45.30/MWh.

With the end of the month, no Western hubs posted trades Thursday. Wednesday's trades were earmarked for Saturday delivery.

Nighttime average prices were mixed for yet another week, but California prices managed to stay around $25/MWh. Mid-C off-peak power finished the week around $18/MWh and COB at $21.

What's ahead: Temperatures are expected to be in the 70s for the week throughout most of the West Coast. Portland is warm and dry Monday with the week's expected high of 81 °F. Drizzly weather is forecast for the area Tuesday and Wednesday. Through Aug. 8, San Francisco should be dry with cooler-than-normal temperatures. Less certain is the forecast for Southern California. Two competing systems over the region leave meteorologists iffy about conditions, but there should be cloud cover during the night and/or early morning hours on the coastal plains, with clear conditions and temperatures around the 70s for most areas [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: July 25 - 29, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.41-374.03 11.75-40.42
Mid-Columbia 29.50-41.50 10-24
COB 37.50-44.75 17-27
NP 15* 38-45 20-25.30
SP 15* 40.40-47.75 21.50-36.75
Palo Verde 43.75-48 21.50-38

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

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

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