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Western Price Survey

August 10, 2018
Returning Heat Spikes Energy Prices

With hotter-than-normal weather returning, power prices at several Western hubs rocketed above $300/MWh.

Western daytime power prices on Aug. 7 reached a high for the trading period, as values ranged from $132.10/MWh at North of Path 15 to $377.50/MWh at Palo Verde.

Constraints coupled with higher demand sent SoCal CityGate natural gas prices to $26.55/MWh on Aug. 6. That hub had the highest price at the end of trading: $15.81/MMBtu.

By the end of Aug. 2-9 trading, peak power prices jumped between roughly $60 and nearly $84. South of Path 15 gained $83.50, ending at $165.15/MWh; California-Oregon Border values increased 119 percent in Thursday-to-Thursday trading to $142.50/MWh.

Off-peak prices added between $7.25 and as much as $17.10 in trading. SP15 gained $17.10, ending at $61.75/MWh.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 45,021 MW Aug. 9, likely the week’s high. That same day, thermal sources supplied 24,323 MW, roughly 54 percent of demand. Renewables on the CAISO grid reached 15,497 MW Aug. 4, supplying roughly 39 percent of demand.

Wildfires across California are an ongoing concern for transmission and distribution. Both the Holy and Hat fires are threatening high-voltage transmission lines, CAISO spokesman Steven Greenlee said Aug. 10, adding that the Holy Fire, southeast of Los Angeles, is within 2 miles of Southern California Edison transmission lines.

Some 2,800 Pacific Gas & Electric customers were without power due to the Hat Fire, said PG&E spokeswoman Angela Lombardi at midday Aug. 10. The utility has not yet been able to access the area to assess damage to its equipment, nor has it determined an estimated time by which power may be restored. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the Hat Fire has burned 2,500 acres in Shasta County since Aug. 9 and is 15 percent contained. There are still 209 PG&E electric customers without power from the Carr Fire, also burning in Shasta County.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,354 Bcf as of Aug. 3, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 46 Bcf compared with the previous week.

Natural gas storage levels are now 22.2 percent lower than a year ago and 19.5 percent below the five-year average. Natural gas demand for power generation increased 6 percent week over week.

Henry Hub gas spot prices added 19 cents in Aug. 2-9 trading, ending at $2.98/MMBtu.

Western natural gas prices were generally higher by between 6 cents and $2.40 in trading. El Paso-Permian Basin and SoCal Border gas were the exceptions. SoCal Border lost 59 cents, ending at $3.94/MMBtu. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

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


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