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Western Price Survey

August 18, 2006
Week's-End Edition
Western Power Visits Flatland Before End-of-Week Hike

Peak-time power values in the West mostly treaded water during much of this week, bobbing gently in the 60 mills to 68 mills/KWh range. Packages swapped during Friday' trading session rose in value by as much as 10 mills above that range, however. The usual spread between the price of power in California and the Northwest has pretty much disappeared in the past couple of weeks, and this week was no exception.

At the North of Path 15 hub the price of daytime power reached 71 mills/KWh on Monday before shedding 3 to 4 mills during the following two daily trading sessions. Power scheduled for next-Monday delivery attracted a high of 76.75 mills/KWh on Friday. Power scheduled for nighttime delivery in NP15 attracted a high of 55.50 mills/KWh that day. Earlier in the week nighttime power traded for between 42.50 mills and 46.50 mills/KWh.

South of Path 15 peak-time packages also topped out at 71 mills/KWh at the start of the week before rising to a new high of 78 mills/KWh on Friday. The price of daytime power at SP15 dipped to between 64 mills and 67.75 mills/KWh on Tuesday and held to that level the following day. Nighttime power at SP15 drew an average of 45 mills/KWh during the first four days of the week before moving up to a range of 49.75 mills to 55 mills/KWh on Friday.

The lack of volatility in the marketplace was a product of relative calm in the weather on the Pacific Coast, as well as the sedentary nature of natural gas prices much of this week. Still, the boost in the price of power scheduled for next-week delivery was contraindicated by a dip in the price of spot gas on Friday. Gas flows into receipt points in California lost anywhere from $0.20 to $0.50/MMBtu between the Thursday and Friday trading sessions.

The Mid-Columbia hub price for peak power opened the week at between 52.25 mills and 66.50 mills/KWh. On Tuesday the price edged down to a low of 58.75 mills/KWh, but by Friday power at the Northwest hub drew between 66 mills and 75 mills/KWh, just a shade lower than the high recorded at NP15 that day. Off-peak power at Mid-C attracted between 47 mills and 51 mills/KWh on Monday, shaved off a couple of mills the following day, but then rebounded on Wednesday, closing the day's session between 50 mills and 53.75 mills/KWh. That spread was overtaken by Friday's values, which were recorded at a range of 45 mills to 60 mills/KWh.

California-Oregon border peak power cost as much as 76.50 mills/KWh on Friday after trading for between 61 mills and 65.75 mills/KWh earlier in the week. Off-peak power at COB soared up to 64 mills/KWh on Friday, nearly 10 mills more than the previous day's price. Early-week trades of nighttime power at the hub were settled for between 46 mills and 49 mills/KWh.

Power plants hooked up to the California Independent System Operator-managed grid were in fine fettle this week. Hardly any units were curtailed by more than 100 MW. All of California's nuclear power generating facilities were operating at full output, as was the Columbia Generating Station in Washington. The only major curtailments occurred at Moss Landing in the NP15 region, and at Ormond Beach in SP15 territory.

Moss Landing's 754 MW Unit No. 6 was off line on Tuesday but returned to service the next day. The 755 MW Unit No. 7 at the site, however, replaced No. 6 in the generation sick bay on Thursday. The 741 MW Ormond Beach Unit No. 1 has been shut down all week [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Costs Fall into Weekend

The price of natural gas on the daily natural gas market in the West took the opposite course of spot power values this week. While electricity trades in the day-ahead market grew in value at the end of the week, gas costs drooped.

Permian Basin gas was valued at between $6.44 and $6.65/MMBtu at the start of the week, lost about $0.20 over the course of the next few days, but hit bottom on Friday, when trades closed as low as $6.12/MMBtu. In New Mexico, at the San Juan Basin, gas moved for an even $6/MMBtu at the end of the week, down from Wednesday's high of $6.45/MMBtu.

Gas delivered into California also shed value on Friday, with Malin deliveries moving across the border for as little as $5.60/MMBtu that day. Southern California deliveries at Topock opened the week trading for between $6.54 and $6.76/MMBtu but dropped down to a range of $6.30 to $6.39/MMBtu on Friday [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: August 14-18, 2006
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 23.04-364.30 12.43-58.03
Mid-Columbia 52.25-75 47-63
COB 61-76.50 45.25-64
NP 15 63-76.75 42.50-55.50
SP 15 62.50-78 42.50-55
Palo Verde 58.25-72 39.50-48.50

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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