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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 10, 2007
Laid-Back Prices Head South for Summer Vacation, Then Return

Western electricity prices started off the week by resuming last week's overall downward drift, falling to some of the lowest prices this summer. Loads remain low for this time of year, and the power system is operating largely without major challenges. But prices in California and the Southwest found late-week strength on forecasts calling for heat to build this weekend.

The few anomalies in the power system were too minor to move spot prices early in the week. While the Asian Western Pacific is getting slammed repeatedly by typhoons, the North Atlantic storm season remains uneventful.

Temperatures have risen a bit in the Southwest since cool early-week weather across much of the West, but it is still hard to find high temperatures much above normal. Heat in the country is now concentrated in the South, with heat indices well above 100 degrees from Oklahoma to Florida. Atlanta recorded its highest temperature this week in 27 years.

The Columbia Generating station, which was off line last week, reached 100 percent by early Monday morning. Routine thermography revealed anomalously high temperatures in a transformer that had been replaced during the re-cent maintenance and refueling outage. Tests revealed that bolts were not quite as tight as specifications required.

Mid-Columbia prices did not repower when the bolts were tightened, kept calm by the Northwest's current mild temperatures. On Monday, peak moved no higher than $55/MWh. Tuesday the bottom dropped to $47, falling by Thursday to the week's low mark of $45.

On Friday, Western power hopped up in the week's biggest move. Mid-C added more than $8 to both peak and off-peak averages, with high prices vaulting almost $12 into the low 40s for nighttime power.

At the California-Oregon border, peak power slid $6 from Monday to $51/MWh on Wednesday. Off-peak plunged from Monday's high of $38 to Wednesday's value of $29.75/MWh, the lowest price this summer. But robust gains in Friday trading put off-peak above $40, solidly below last week's high. Peak found $59/MWh.

Daytime power at North of Path 15 spread between $62/MWh Monday and Friday's high of $68.25. The lowest price for nighttime power, $33/MWh on Wednesday, was lower than the $34 value set after July 4. Friday's high was still below last week's.

Daytime power at South of Path 15 found a weighted average price of $34.19/MWh this week, the lowest so far this summer. Palo Verde peak also reached its summertime low, reaching $52.75 on Monday. Off-peak dipped to $28.75/MWh on Wednesday, closing in on the low of $28 from two weeks ago.

Friday's trades at Southwestern hubs set some of the higher prices in the past four weeks. Palo Verde's high of $74.25 tops everything going back to July 11, but average prices remain below the top of the range from the past three weeks. The SP-15 high of 70.25 for peak didn't break above last week's range [Alan Mountjoy-Venning].

Spring Sale in Gas Markets Cut Short Friday

This week saw normal high temperatures in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states, spring-like weather in parts of the Northwest, and natural gas storage at levels above the high end of five-year averages. Add to that the non-hurricane season (so far) and you've got conditions that could drive prices lower, absent some spike in temperatures or something that spooks traders.

The weekly storage report was hardly a haunting event, although the injection of 42 Bcf is a little less than usual for this time of year. While gas at all Eastern, Mid-Continent, Texas and Gulf hubs rose for the week in the face of sweltering, record-breaking heat, prices in the West showed little direction.

A tepid bump up Friday to secure weekend power left spot prices a little higher than last week. But Western day-ahead prices remain below highs and above lows of the last month, despite short covering that bumped futures for month-ahead gas Friday.

Values went for lows Monday and reached highs for weekend deliveries. San Juan Basin gas spread only 40 cents/MMBtu this week, reaching a high of $5.86. Permian Basin gas reached $6.17/MMBtu and Southern California gas was a bit below $6 Friday, having set its high of $6.06 on Tuesday [A. M-V.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: August 6 - 10, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 9.30-259.41 9.30-37.36
Mid-Columbia 45-58 27-41.75
COB 48.50-59 29.75-41.75
NP 15 54.25-68.25 33-47.50
SP 15 53.50-70.25 33.50-48
Palo Verde 50.75-74.25 28.25-42.25

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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