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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 10, 2012
Heat Keeps Power Prices High

A relentless heat wave across California and Arizona buoyed Western power prices, with peak values gaining as much as $17 in the Aug. 3 to Aug. 10 trading period.

Some desert areas were forecast to reach 125 °F Friday. Woodland Hills and Lancaster, Calif., both hit a record 109 °F Aug. 9, while Phoenix hit a record 114-degree high the same day.

The temperature at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport was 102 °F at 1 a.m. Friday. "I do not recall ever seeing a temp that high at 1 a.m. in over 20 years of working at this office," a meteorologist in the state said.

Palo Verde peak power jumped about $17.10 to an average of $55.95/MWh Friday, while South of Path 15 peak power gained roughly $15.65 in Friday trading to an average of about $52.35/MWh.

Cal-ISO continues closely monitoring grid conditions, which as of 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 10 included 6,400 MW of unplanned generation outages.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 45,213 MW Thursday, Aug. 9. The week's high of 46,685 MW is expected today, which would break a peak demand record set last September. Demand should remain less than 43,000 MW the week of Aug. 13. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 58,393 MW Aug. 7.

Meanwhile, the Bonneville Power Administration reported hydro generation ranging from about 8,440 MW to as high as 12,907 MW the week of Aug. 6.

Apart from Southern California and Palo Verde, here's how average prices for Western peak power fared since last Friday:

  • Mid-Columbia: Up about 50 cents to roughly $28.65/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Rose almost $11.35 to around $43.30/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Jumped about $13.55, trading Friday at $48.35/MWh.

Western off-peak prices gained from a few cents to more than $6/MWh. Mid-C proved the exception, losing 50 cents by Friday, Aug. 10. Off-peak prices Friday ranged from averages of about $19.65 at Mid-C to roughly $33.30/MWh at SP15.

Working gas in storage was 3,241 Bcf as of Friday, Aug. 3, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 24 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 16.8 percent higher than a year ago and 13.5 percent above the five-year average.

Western spot natural gas prices were up across the board. Compared to Aug. 3, Henry Hub natural gas dropped 7 cents, trading Friday at $2.84/MMBtu. In the West, Southern California Border gas jumped 11 cents, ending at $3.04, while PG&E CityGate, Malin, and Ruby-Malin each earned 3 cents.

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station's 1,335 MW Unit No. 3 returned to service Aug. 5 after being powered down starting July 30 for repairs.

In California, 100-plus-degree weather should persist through Thursday, Aug. 16 in parts of the state, but San Francisco and the Los Angeles area expect highs in the 70s for that same period. Portland should be in the 80s, while Seattle will see clear weather and temperatures in the 70s [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: August 6 - 10, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.08-812.44 9.91-23.50
Mid-Columbia 23-38.75 8-22.25
COB 30-48 14-25.50
NP 15* 40-50 20-24
SP 15* 43-66.75 20.50-34
Palo Verde 46-75 18.25-30.50

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

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

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