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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 3, 2007
These Ain't Last Summer's Wholesale Energy Prices

Wholesale electricity prices rose sharply Tuesday but slipped later in the week as temperatures cooled considerably in key load centers. Friday's weekend trades firmed peak prices a little, but whole-sale peak prices are still down for the week.

Off-peak trades are telling a somewhat different story. The highest prices at Western hubs fell be-tween $5 and $8/MWh Monday, mitigating last Friday's surge. But by today, trades for Monday de-liveries surpassed last week's values at all hubs except Palo Verde.

Still, peak and off-peak prices are relatively subdued now in what can be the hottest part of the sum-mer, but hasn't been. Early in the week, higher-than-normal temperatures persisted in places like Fresno, where it reached 105 degrees Tuesday. But other inland hot spots like Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Phoenix cooled off Tuesday, with heavy rains developing south and west of Las Vegas. Coastal states mainly stayed dry until Friday, when some Puget Sound showers pushed in with cooler tempera-tures in the Northwest.

At Palo Verde, the high value for peak power, $67.75/MWh, was set Tuesday. Prices slumped to the week's low of $53 by Thursday before going as high as $60.75/MWh in trading today. Low prices for peak power there dropped to $54.25 this week, the lowest price since early June. Nighttime power fell hard Monday, dropping almost $8/MWh from last Friday's spike, then rose today to $39/MWh, the highest mark of the week.

North of Path 15 and South of Path 15 peak power also had their highest prices Tuesday, reaching an av-erage of $68/MWh, then drifted lower until a mild rebound in Friday trades left the average around $65/MWh. Nighttime power traded a bit below $40 much of the week before reaching a high of $48/MWh at both hubs Friday.

At Mid-Columbia, warmer weather pushed daytime power to the week's high of $63.50/MWh Wednesday. Prices slipped in trades Thursday with cooler weather, then regained strength Friday on higher demand for Monday deliveries. Off-peak Mid-C prices surged Friday to an average of $43.32/MWh, the highest level in two weeks. The Columbia Generating Station went down to 15 per-cent power Friday because its main transformer was reading 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees above the normal operating temperature.

Daytime power at the California-Oregon border traded Monday at an average of $58/MWh and gained $7 in Tuesday and Wednesday trading. By Friday peak went for no more than $63. Off-peak power, trading as low as $35/MWh on Monday, added $9.50 by Friday, reaching the week's high of $44.50/MWh.

By Sunday and the early part of next week more relief from heat should arrive at the biggest demand centers in the Southwest. Dramatically cooler weather arrived Friday in the Northwest, but will give way to more seasonal temperatures next week. [Alan Mountjoy-Venning].

Natural Gas Values Deflate on Cooler Weather, Abundant Storage

Natural gas spot prices couldn't muster much enthusiasm this week after an initial show of strength. Prices rose to reach the week's highs on Tuesday, trended weakly higher on Thursday and sank to lows on Friday. Most hubs saw trades between $5/MMBtu and $6/MMBtu all week.

By Friday prices slipped decisively in the face of forecast cooler temperatures. Injections are also at historical highs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated that working gas in storage is now above the maximum level achieved during the 2002-2006 period used to establish the five-year aver-age.

Another factor depressing gas prices is the level of tropical cyclone activity one-third of the way through the hurricane season. While federal forecasters still call for 13 to 17 storms, others have up-dated their forecasts, calling for fewer storms this season.

Forecasters with the best record last year at Houston's Weather Research Center are calling for only seven named storms, with four of those strong enough to reach hurricane status.

So far, their prediction that the Gulf Coast from Brownsville, Texas to Key West is at the highest risk of experiencing one of the three landfalls they predict in the United States was verified when Tropical Storm Barry landed north of Tampa in June. [Alan Mountjoy-Venning].

Western Electricity Prices
July 30 - Aug. 3, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 18.10-684.11 15-68.42
Mid-Columbia 53-63.5 32-46
COB 57.45-67 35-44.5
NP 15 60.65-69.20 36.5-48
SP 15 59-70.25 36.25-48
Palo Verde 53-67.25 31.25-39

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

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