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Western Price Survey

July 31, 2015
Heat Raises Northwest Power Prices

Searing Pacific Northwest temperatures sent power prices higher as air conditioners and ceiling fans tried to take the edge off triple-digit highs.

A high-pressure ridge elevated temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above seasonal norms. The heat was pro-nounced along the I-5 corridor, according to fore-casters. The mercury in Portland rose to 103° F July 30 with Eugene and Salem breaking records at 105° F. Highs in the 90s and 100s were anticipated across California July 31 into early August.

In contrast, this has been the coolest July in Phoenix since 1999, according to the National Weather Service.

Average peak power prices in the West rose in the July 24 through July 31 trading period, with Mid-Columbia up $9.35 to $35.15/MWh. Average daytime prices ranged from $34.75 at Palo Verde to $38.90/MWh at South of Path 15.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 42,299 MW July 29, which should prove the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached a peak of 62,749 MW July 30, but the week's high may occur July 31, when demand of 64,852 MW is forecast.

Off-peak power saw similar price movements. Average prices July 31 ranged from $26.65 at Palo Verde to $30.60/MWh at California-Oregon Border.

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Meanwhile, working gas in storage reached 2,880 Bcf as of July 24 according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 52 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 25.5 percent greater than a year ago and 3 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values shed six cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $2.85/MMBtu July 30. Western natural gas prices dropped between 2 and 19 cents in trading.

Western natural gas prices were significantly lower this July compared to July of last year. The average high price at PG&E CityGate in July was $3.29/MMBtu; in 2014, it was $5.03/MMBtu. Some average Western power prices during July 2015 were higher than last year's, including California-Oregon Border, which posted a high price of $92.86/MWh compared to $65.40/MWh in 2014. California prices, however, were between 60 cents and roughly $12.85 lower than last year's (see "Price Trends" on next page).

What's next: Forecasters are watching condi-tions in the Pacific, with expectations that El Niño conditions could become as strong as or stronger than the 1997-1998 El Niño, which produced a wet fall and winter in most of California. [Linda Dailey Paulson ].

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


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

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