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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 8, 2003
Waiting on the Weather

The first full week in August started uneventfully in the electricity-trading department. "There's not much going on," sighed one trader, who noted that prices were soft everywhere.

With relatively mild temperatures in the region and the return on line of Palo Verde Unit No. 3, which began ramping up on Monday and was at full-capacity output on Thursday, supplies were more than sufficient to meet demand throughout the West. Sometime late Thursday evening, a leak was discovered in a condenser water box on PV Unit No. 1 and the plant was derated to 40 percent. It will remain at that level until repairs are completed -- which should occur sometime over the weekend.

One unit that has been off line for a week is the Mohave Generating Station's 790 MW Unit No. 1. It returned to service Thursday evening. The California Independent System Operator generator-outage list reported the total amount of power off line in the grid operator's control area as between 4,875 MW and 5,700 MW this week. Idle plants on forced outage include La Paloma Units No. 2, 3 and 4, though Unit No. 4 was back in operation late Monday morning.

Duke's 754 MW Moss Landing Unit No. 6 was idle most of the week but returned to service by midday Thursday. The company's 336 MW Unit No. 4 at Morro Bay appeared on the Cal-ISO list on Tuesday afternoon and remained there throughout the week. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Mirant's 206 MW Potrero Unit No. 3 was reduced by about 75 percent for a planned curtailment on Thursday but was quickly back up later that day. By Thursday afternoon, the 52 MW Potrero Unit No. 6 was not available and neither was Pacific Gas & Electric's 163 MW Hunters Point No. 4.

"We've been waiting on the weather," one trader told California Energy Markets though he conceded that temperatures that would drive prices upward were not likely to appear in the next week or so.

Loads in Cal-ISO territory broke the 37,000 MW barrier on Monday, but quickly lowered, with peak demand on Wednesday clawing its way to 36,001 MW. Thursday saw a return to the 37,000 MW breakpoint and peak demand for Friday was forecast at 38,033 MW.

Prices for peak power at Palo Verde pulled out in front of the pack on Tuesday, hitting a high of 58.25 mills/KWh and kept to the low- to mid-50s the following days. Mid-Columbia prices barely moved during the week, hovering at between 41.50 mills and 43.50 mills/KWh for most trades.

Prices across the board rose on Friday for Sunday/Monday deliveries. PV peak power traded between 47.50 and 59.50 mills/KWh while prices at SP15 topped out at 58.50 mills/KWh. The Northwest also saw a price boost at the end of the week. At Mid-C, off-peak trades were moving for as much as 42 mills/KWh for deliveries at the start of next week.

Transmission-system volatility was also fairly nonexistent during the week. There were outages and derates, but by now, the listings have become almost rote.

The California/Oregon Intertie continues to be limited to 4,000 MW north to south and 2,450 MW in the opposite direction because of the Marion-Lane 500 KV line outage. As has been the case for a number of months now, Path 26 is limited to 2,500 MW north to south because of an outage of one of the Vincent 500/220 KV banks. Friday's Western Electricity Coordinating Council system report listed August 17 as the estimated installation date for the replacement bank, which would return the station to three banks [Shauna O'Donnell].

Maybe We Will Have Winter Gas

The Energy Information Administration this week injected a bit of relief into the will-we or won't-we debate over whether the nation will have a sufficient amount of natural gas in storage come winter. The EIA said that storage levels are likely to reach normal levels by the beginning of the heating season, typically pegged as November 1. Injections into storage have been at healthy volumes over the last few weeks and overall volumes topped out at just over 2 trillion Bcf at the end of last week.

Throughout the West, spot gas prices took on the same sort of ennui exhibited by electricity prices. Though there was some movement in prices at the hubs, no significant jumps were on display. Still, prices were a bit firmer overall when compared with last week. Southern California Border trades hit a high of $5.10/MMBtu on Monday then dropped back to the $4.62 to $4.75/MMBtu range for the rest of the week. Last week, Topock prices topped out at $4.74/MMBtu.

Alberta gas managed to stay above $4.00/MMBtu this week, hitting a high of $4.18/MMBtu on Tuesday [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of August 4-8, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.34-97.88 10.34-63.62
Mid-Columbia 39-46.75 34-42
COB 44-53.75 36.50-42
NP 15 43-54.25 31-43.50
SP 15 48.75-58.50 33.75-46.5
Palo Verde 43.75-59.50 29.75-46.25

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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