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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 1, 2003
Cooler Weather a Relief as System Sweats Out Difficulties

The weather has turned cooler throughout the West and scorching temperatures anticipated for the early part of this week in many parts of the region did not arrive. Still, a host of other challenges popped up throughout the electricity system that, had they been coupled with record demand, could have caused havoc on the system.

On Friday, July 25, a blaze broke out near the Mid- way-Vincent No. 1 and No. 2 lines, traveled under the 500 KV lines and caused them to relay at 5:34 pm that day. The lines were back in service at 9:22 pm but capac-ity was curtailed on Path 26 until the next morning, when the fire was contained. Another fire that burned under the California/Oregon Intertie on July 28 caused derates on the COI. The intertie was limited to 2,300 MW in each di-rection from midnight to 9:00 am Monday morning.

At Salt River Project's Hassayampa Substation, the grounds at the substation were left closed as the Has- sayampa-Arlington Valley 500 KV line was being put back into service, causing a number of generating units relayed. The units that automatically shut down in the in-cident included a handful of Pinnacle West's facilities-two 530 MW units at Red Hawk and the 530 MW West Phoenix facility-as well as Unit No. 2 at the Palo Verde nuclear generating facility. PG&E Generating's 180 MW Harquahala Unit No. 5 also tripped off line.

Because of the sudden loss of power, Arizona Public Service was forced to shed 440 MW of load and 90,000 customers throughout the state lost power. Ac-cording to APS spokesperson Sheri Foote, all power was restored within an hour and a half.

The rapid shutdown of Palo Verde Unit No. 3 led to a leak in a seal of the reactor coolant-pump. Late on Tues-day an unrelated problem in Unit No. 2 was discovered and the unit was manually shut down. According to Foote, a valve was stuck in the open position.

Thursday saw the tally of megawatts off line within the California Independent System Operator control area reach just above 6,000 MW, about 2,000 MW more than have been listed in recent weeks. One major reason for the higher number was the removal from the grid of the Mohave Generating Station's Units No. 1 and No. 2, rated at 790 MW apiece. Unit No. 1 was shut down after a boiler-tube leak was discovered on Tuesday. Mohave Unit No. 2 tripped off line Wednesday morning. Unit No. 2 was removed from Cal-ISO's outage list on Friday but the gain in power to the grid was tempered by an un-planned outage at AES' 487 MW Redondo Unit No. 8.

La Paloma Units No. 1 through No. 4 were off line Monday morning, but No. 1 went back into service in the afternoon. The remaining three units, with total capacity of about 700 MW, were down all week.

Despite the various mishaps throughout the region, prices remained on a fairly level keel during the week. Palo Verde trading opened on Monday in the range of 50 mills to 57.50 mills/KWh, fluctuating by only about 2 mills in either direction on subsequent days. The ex-ception to this rule occurred Friday, when the price for peak power at Palo Verde dove to a range of 40 mills to 43.75 mills/KWh-influenced perhaps by PV Unit No. 2 going back on line. Friday's Nuclear Regulatory Com-mission report listed the unit at 18 percent of output.

Off-peak prices in the Southwest gained as the week wore on-topping out at 44 mills/KWh at SP15 on Thursday [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices Wilt on Storage, Weather Reports

If the impending crisis in natural gas supplies and soaring prices are rapidly approaching, they certainly did not arrive this week. Natural gas prices dipped markedly when compared with last week's figures. This was especially true on the upper end of the price range. For example, last week's San Juan trades hit a high of $4.77/MMBtu, whereas the best they could muster this week was $4.37/MMBtu on Tuesday.

Prices at the Alberta hub took a significant dive this week relative to last week's trades. As if expending all their effort on Monday to keep the trade price above the $4.00/MMBtu mark, the rest of the week saw AECO hover-ing in the $3.93 to $3.95/MMBtu range.

The consistent injection of gas into the nation's stor-age units over the past month or so have eased concerns about gas supplies for next winter somewhat. The Energy Information Administration's Thursday storage report showed another healthy injection of 83 Bcf for the past week [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of July 28-August 31, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 18.65-201.10 10.34-69.02
Mid-Columbia 38-53.60 37.50-41.50
COB 46.20-62.75 40.50
NP 15 48-61 35-41
SP 15 50-69 33-44
Palo Verde 40-59 31.50-41

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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