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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 3, 2001
Markets Turn 50

With little news or variation in weather to drive markets one way or the other, power prices throughout the West gravitated to the low-50s for daytime deliveries. "Generation is healthy, transmission is healthy. It's a kind of knock on wood situation," one scheduler said.

"It's pretty stable. Everything is running well," confirmed another.

There were some notable resource outages reported this week, but the capacity margins were strong enough that the absence of the Columbia Generating Station and intermittent outages at Colstrip in the Pacific Northwest were not crucial.

The Columbia nuclear unit was moving out of its repair outage and synchronized with the grid on Thursday. It is expected to be back to full power by the weekend. The Colstrip outages were unexplained. All four units at the 2,000 MW facility tripped early Wednesday, and then again in the afternoon as operators were bringing them back online. Though not seen as a big loss for the grid, the outages did cause repeated voltage dips.

Loads on the California Independent System Operator's system crept up through the week to as much as 35,600 MW on Thursday. Unit outages in the state varied between 3,500 MW and 4,000 MW, leaving lots of cushion between demand and supply. As California required less imports, that scheduled energy turned around to stay within the Northwest and Southwest, helping keep the lid on prices.

After starting out in the 60 mills to 68 mills/KWh bracket, prices across the west dripped lower with each day. At the low end of pricing were California's NP15 and SP15 zones, where peak prices fell to 44.5 mills/KWh heading into the weekend. South Path 15 had slightly lower overnight prices, at 26 mills to 29 mills/KWh, while NP15 came in around 32 mills to 34 mills/KWh.

Mid-Columbia prices had previously reflected concerns about the nuclear outage, but moved steadily lower to the 52 mills to 55 mills/KWh range at peak and 32 mills to 33.5 mills/KWh for off-peak.

Palo Verde was clinging to the 50 mills/KWh level, but Mead was pulling out the floor beneath the Southwest with power going for 47.5 mills/KWh. The off-peak prices fell considerably as the week wore on, moving from nearly 35 mills/KWh on Monday down to 23 mills/KWh Thursday [Arthur O'Donnell].

Natural Gas Prices Vary but Not by Much

The national market reacted to the most recent storage injection reports by sending futures prices plummeting, even though the storage figures were not especially extreme.

Western prices generally held steady or rose a bit, some increase in pipeline takeouts was attributed to Central Valley food processors finally entering their heavy season.

The Southern California Border price dipped to $3.65 but then picked up to $3.80/MMBtu, while the San Juan Basin price curved the other direction, rising to $3.07 then falling to $2.98/MMBtu.

There was little movement seen at Malin, where the price hung at $3.35/MMBtu. The SF CityGate gave way a bit on Thursday, dropping from $3.95 to $3.80/MMBtu, traders said.

In Canada, the Alberta price slid from $(C)3.87/Gigajoule to $3.81/Gj [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of July 30-August 3, 2001
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 45-115 7.25-45
Mid-Columbia 52-68.5 32-49.6
COB 52-68 31-43
NP 15 44.5-60.5 29.5-38
SP 15 44.5-58.5 25-34
Palo Verde 50-65 23-35

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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