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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 6, 2004
Nuke Shutdown Bolsters Northwest Prices

The price for power traded in the West this week moved in concert with the oft-noted fundamentals of a change in the weather, growth in load and movement in the price of natural gas. In other words, power costs on the daily market went nowhere during the first three days of the week as temperatures, demand and fuel prices remained steady.

The price for power at the California-Oregon Bor-der exhibited a classic case of stagnation. After open-ing the week in the range of 57 mills to 57.75 mills/KWh, the price for peak-time power at the hub barely moved early in the week. But next-week deliveries were trading for as much as 61 mills/KWh on Friday. The price of low-demand power at COB rose steadily as the week progressed. On Monday the price for off-peak supplies ran between 43 mills and 47.25 mills/KWh, then skipped up close to 50 mills/KWh midweek, and closed on Friday at a high of 53 mills/KWh.

As summer has progressed, the decrease in hydro output in the Northwest has put upward pressure on the cost of power in that region. In other parts of the year, Mid-Columbia power frequently trades for 10 mills or more less than electricity moving through other hubs in the West. This week, however, Mid-C remained firmly entrenched in the mid-to-high fifties range. High-demand power attracted as much as 56 mills/KWh on Monday before slipping down to a low of 54.50 mills/KWh on Wednesday. The price rose as high as 59 mills/KWh in Friday trading. Off-peak power at Mid-C stayed within the range of 44.75 mills to 50.75 mills/KWh during the first part of the week before drawing as much as 55 mills/KWh on Friday

The unexpected shutdown of the 1,157 MW Columbia Generating Station early last Friday morning bolstered the price for power in the Northwest this week. Two of the nuclear power plant's 185 reactor control rods reportedly were not fully inserted in the core. An alert was declared at the facility and safety and shutdown systems worked as planned. Operators later determined that all rods had been inserted and that the problem was in the indicator system. Prices may drop in the Northwest next week as the unit is expected to return to service.

Power prices registered an average of about 5 mills/KWh higher in California than they did in the Northwest. Peak-time power at NP15 did not expend too much energy running up and down the price scale much of the week, trading on Monday for between 59.25 mills and 61.25 mills/KWh before closing on Thursday at between 55 mills and 58 mills/KWh. The usual bump up in price for next-week deliveries was recorded on Friday, when trades were conducted for as much as 65.50 mills/KWh. Off-peak power prices at NP15 also moved little during the week, sticking firmly to the 41.75 mills to 44.50 mills/KWh range. Costs were higher on Friday, as expected warm weather and higher demand drove the price up to 52 mills/KWh for next-week deliveries.

Power delivered south of Path 15 drew a couple of mills more than NP15 power this week. Daytime power at SP15 changed hands for a high of 64 mills/KWh on Monday before shedding about 3 mills for Thursday deliveries. Nighttime power attracted between 39.50 mills and 42 mills/KWh much of the week, but took a run up to 50.25 mills/KWh on Friday [Shauna O'Donnell].

Natural Gas Story - More about gas markets!

Unfettered by any significant variations in demand or weather, the price of natural gas in Western spot markets remained within a fairly narrow range this week. Both producing-basin and California receipt-point prices were recorded in the mid-to-high $5 range, though PG&E CityGate gas costs broke through to $6.10/MMBtu at the beginning of the week.

At the Topock receipt point in Southern California, gas trading opened the week within the range of $5.77 and $5.87/MMBtu. The price of the commodity slipped down to $5.80/MMBtu by midweek and weakened even more on Friday, when trades were in the range of $5.50 to $5.65/MMBtu.

Basin prices ranged from a low of $5.15/MMBtu late in the week at San Juan to a high of $5.74/MMBtu at Permian on Monday. The price at both producing basins lost strength over the course of the week, and no drivers that would encourage a price rise material-ized. Permian Basin gas closed out the uneventful week between $5.165 and $5.38/MMBtu [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
August 2-6, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.03-511 11.04-59.19
Mid-Columbia 54.25-59 44.75-55
COB 56.50-61 43-53
NP 15 58.50-65.50 41.75-50.50
SP 15 59.50-69 39.50-50.25
Palo Verde 56.50-65 35-46.50

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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