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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 6, 2010
Western Power Prices Continue Falling

August opened with weak electricity prices throughout the Western United States. Trades for both daytime and off-peak power lost value throughout the week. Peak prices in particular fell sharply Friday.

From the Friday-to-Friday period spanning July 30 to Aug. 6, average daytime prices for all hubs lost between about $5.50 and nearly $9.50/MWh.

North of Path 15 and South of Path 15 average peak prices both lost value consistently throughout the week. By Friday, NP15 and SP15 traded around $36/MWh, a loss of about $5.50 compared with the previous week.

Average daytime prices at Mid-Columbia and the California-Oregon Border were nearly static for the majority of the week. By Friday Mid-C had lost $5.82/MWh compared to July 30; COB had lost $7.64/MWh compared to the previous week.

For off-peak power, average prices in the West ended Aug. 6 in a range between about $27 and $31/MWh, a loss of between $3 and $5/MWh compared to the previous Friday.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 37,920 MW on Tuesday at 5 p.m., the week's high.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a 29 Bcf addition to natural gas reserves provided a total of 2.948 Tcf in storage as of July 30. This addition was 38 Bcf less than last year's 67 Bcf injection at this time. But inventories, now 221 Bcf greater than the five-year average, have exceeded the five-year average for 19 consecutive weeks.

Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.77/MMBtu on Wednesday, Aug. 4, up 1 percent from the preceding Wednesday, according to the EIA. Spot prices traded at an average of $4.66/MMBtu Friday.

Columbia Generating Station, the Richland, Wash. nuclear facility owned by Energy Northwest, returned to full operation Friday after decreasing generation to 65 percent power July 27 for repairs.

The Bonneville Power Administration introduced a new digital display that shows data used to monitor weather conditions, including wind data from 14 new BPA weather stations installed to help the agency anticipate wind-energy production. It is online at www.bpa.gov/go/windsocks.

What's ahead: Warmer, drier conditions are expected for the Seattle area starting Monday or Tuesday and lasting throughout the week. Highs should not break the 70s. Onshore flow is anticipated to keep temperatures cooler from Oregon through Southern California. Portland temperatures are expected to be below seasonal norms, while the San Francisco Bay Area expects some warming. Forecasters are not wholly confident as to how much warming there will be in the Bay Area or whether it will last. The same onshore flow will depress Los Angeles area temperatures through Tuesday, Aug. 10, if not longer. Meteorologists are keeping an eye on a high-pressure system that could bring warmer conditions. California's Central Valley -- from Sacramento to Bakersfield -- should have warmer weather as the week progresses.

Many meteorologists have begun expressing concern about a strong La Niña pattern developing, which could herald a soggy winter. At least one National Weather Service optimist is not ruling out the possibility of a warmer end to summer or a warm fall [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: Aug 2 - 6, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 18.29-176.15 14.71-52.59
Mid-Columbia 33.25-44 26-31
COB 35.50-47 26-31
NP 15* 35-41.25 29.25-30.25
SP 15* 35-42.75 28-29.50
Palo Verde 37.25-45.50 26.75-31.75

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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 Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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