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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 9, 2002
Power Markets Shrug Off Minor Heat Wave

While the mid-August heat sometimes brings higher power demand and price volatility, this week's Western power markets seemed more interested in sleeping in the sun. The California Independent System Operator's daily load forecast picked up slightly each day, with Thursday's peak jumping 1,400 MW above the forecast to 38,418 MW. Cal-ISO upped its Friday forecast to 40,500 MW as Northern and Central California were hit with 100 degree days. The splotch of red covering the Southwest weather maps expanded somewhat. Still, the minor heat wave was backed up against a low-load weekend, and the Northwest did not share in the hot temperatures. So prices failed to gather much momentum.

Although some California/Oregon Border transactions were reported at 33 mills/KWh during Thursday's trading, that was definitely counter to the overall trends, which put COB in the 21 mills to 25 mills/KWh range. Mid-Columbia energy collapsed to the 12.5 mills to 15 mills/KWh level for peak power as Bonnevilla Power Administration extended its 800 MW daytime surplus offer into Monday. Up to 600 MW of off-peak power was available from BPA, as it had been all week.

Other indicators of the excess supply were the upward creep of generation maintenance outages to 8,200 MW in California on Thursday with little discernable price impacts. The unexpected loss of two 530 MW units at Moss Landing and the 929 MW Delta Energy Center midweek may have contributed to the run on power at COB, but the NP15 price edged up only slightly to the 24.5 mills to 28.5 mills/KWh level-sticking within the same range all week. By Friday, Moss Landing No. 1 was back to business and Delta had restored 250 MW.

Other outages of an unplanned nature included the 260 MW La Paloma No. 2 unit and usual suspects, Contra Costa No. 6 (335 MW), Huntington Beach No. 5 (133 MW), Alamitos No. 6 (485 MW) and CalPeak's 50 MW El Cajon peaker. In the Southwest, Four Corners had a slight derating, but few other problems were reported.

Transmission availability was at or near full seasonal capacity, with the California/Oregon Intertie rated at 4,300 MW southbound and the DC Intertie flowing at its usual 2,990 MW.

SP15 and Palo Verde moved in the 26.5 mills to 31 mills/KWh range much of the week, although some PV sales on Monday were reported as high as 34 mills/KWh. Mead prices held to 32 mills to 34 mills/KWh [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Market Listless Despite Poor Storage Report

Western natural gas prices failed to budge from their mid-summer rut, even though national markets got shaken a bit by an unexpectedly low storage injection report this week. Trades for the week were pretty well finished by the time the Energy Information Administration reported that only 33 Bcf net went into storage, as opposed to the 40 to 50 Bcf forecast. Traders pushed September contract prices higher, but there was little impact on dailies, they said.

Even though electric generation output hit new records nationally last week, Western power demand on Friday passed the critical 40,000 MW peak figure for the first time in a month.

The San Juan Basin showed the most price movement, running between $2.20 and $2.50/MMBtu, and it did that on Thursday after skirting the lower end of the range all week. Permian's high end lifted to $2.51 but that was lower than the $2.60 perch it began the week from. At the lower end of the range, Texas gas was $2.44/MMBtu.

The Southern California Border was listless in the $2.55 to $2.63/MMBtu range, while SF CityGate prices barely budged from the $2.37 to $2.50/MMBtu bracket.

Alberta weakened to $(C)2.72/Gigajoule, then rebounded to $2.80 from the Monday start at $2.92/Gj [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of August 5-9, 2002
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.5-63 10-12
Mid-Columbia 12.5-17.5 12-15.5
COB 18-25 14-16
NP 15 23.5-29 16-18
SP 15 26.5-32.5 15-17.5
Palo Verde 26.5-34 14-15

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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