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Western Price Survey

August 3, 2018
Western Power Prices Cool as Heat Exits

Western U.S. power prices remained high over the past week, but began to moderate as the extreme heat in some parts of the region ebbed.

By the end of the July 26 to Aug. 2 trading period, Western peak power prices ranged from $52.80/MWh at North of Path 15 to $93/MWh at Palo Verde. California-Oregon Border posted the greatest loss among Western hubs, down $163 to $65/MWh, a 71 percent drop in Thursday-to-Thursday trading.

Off-peak prices fell between $6.45 and as much as $18.50 in trading. Palo Verde nighttime power lost the most, ending at $37.25/MWh. By Aug. 2, off-peak average power prices ranged from $34.65/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $44.65/MWh at South of Path 15.

CAISO demand reached 43,970 MW Aug. 1, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 70,125 MW July 30.

Renewables on the California Independent System Operator grid reached 14,629 MW Aug. 2, supplying roughly 34 percent of demand. Thermal generation reached 21,771 MW July 30, while solar generation reached 10,176 MW July 27.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,308 Bcf as of July 27, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 35 Bcf compared with the previous week and the fifth consecutive week that net additions have been less than the five-year average of 43 Bcf a week, according to the agency.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices added a penny in July 26 to Aug. 2 trading, ending at $2.79/MMBtu.

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Western natural gas prices were generally higher by between 5 cents and 44 cents. El Paso-Permian natural gas posted the greatest gain, up 44 cents to $2.32/MMBtu. Of the three hubs in the region that lost value in trading, SoCal Border lost the most, dropping $2.49 to $4.53/MMBtu. SoCal CityGate gas had the highest price at the end of trading at $13.41/MMBtu.

In July, average natural gas prices were generally less compared with 2017 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price last month at Henry Hub was $2.90/MMBtu, 20 cents less than last year. Western natural gas hubs lost value year over year; however, SoCal Border gained $7.60 with an average high price of $10.82/MMBtu.

July heat sent average Western peak power prices skyward. Compared with 2017, South of Path 15 gained the most year over year, up $303.70 to $377.30/MWh. Natural gas used for power generation during the month reached 36.9 Bcf/day, on average, which is near the 37.2 Bcf/day record set in August 2016. The EIA said this is consistent with long-term natural gas consumption trends. Natural gas for power consumption increased an average of 0.8 Bcf/day each year between 2010 and 2017. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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