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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 12, 2011
Energy Prices Yo-Yo During Week

Support for electricity prices has been minimal in recent weeks, with lower energy demand keeping peak power prices in check.

Natural gas prices fell across the United States in the period between Wednesday, Aug. 3 and Wednesday, Aug. 10, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration says is "likely in response to cooling temperatures as well as weak economic news." Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.09/MMBtu on Aug. 10, down 17 cents over the previous Wednesday. But by Friday, as the stock market recovered, the hub traded for an average of $4.17/MMBtu, a 4-cent decrease from the previous Friday.

When looking at the Friday-to-Friday trading period from Aug. 5 to Aug. 12, Western natural gas prices perked up. PG&E CityGate gas gained 13 cents, closing at an average of $4.35/MMBtu. Ruby-Malin gas traded at an average of $3.97/MMBtu, a 12-cent gain, and Southern California Border gas rose 9 cents to $4.17/MMBtu.

Working natural gas in storage increased to 2.783 Tcf by Friday, Aug. 5, after a 25 Bcf net injection, according to the EIA. The amount in storage is now 197 Bcf below last year and 80 Bcf less than the five-year average, according to the agency. This is the fifth consecutive week that injection amounts have been below average. The agency attributes the "relatively low" addition to natural-gas storage to increased demand, spurred by hot weather between July 29 and Aug. 5.

In the Aug. 5 to Aug. 12 trading period, here's how average peak power prices fared:

  • Mid-C: Lost about $2.25 to $31.85/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up 7 cents to around $35.08/MWh.
  • NP15: Posted no trades the previous Friday; traded at $37.85/MWh Friday.
  • SP15: Up around 95 cents, trading at about $40.95/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Down 35 cents, ending trading at $40.45/MWh.

Nighttime average prices were mixed, with prices ranging from roughly $22/MWh to about $30.45/MWh (see chart). Northwestern hubs gained $4 to $5 during the trading period.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 36,770 MW Tuesday evening, the week's high. The grid operator predicts the next surge in demand will occur Wednesday, Aug. 17, when use should be around 39,500 MW.

What's ahead: Seattle is expected to reach a high of 72 °F on Aug. 18 after an upper-level ridge builds and brings warm, dry conditions to the area Tuesday through Thursday. Some areas of Washington may reach the 80s by Wednesday or Thursday. Portland expects similar weather with cool conditions Monday and Tuesday, but temperatures in the 80s inland by Thursday. Forecasters predict little variability in California's long-term weather Monday through Thursday; however, both San Francisco and Los Angeles should see late-night/early-morning coastal marine cover with temperatures in the 70s [Linda Dailey Paulson].


Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: August 8 - 12, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 13.18-788.49 15.76-46.24
Mid-Columbia 27.50-35 11-23.50
COB 30.75-35.50 14.50-24.50
NP 15* 33.50-37.95 21-29
SP 15* 36.25-41.50 21-30.75
Palo Verde 35.25-42.25 21.25-29.75

* 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.

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

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