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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 20, 2004
Power Prices Enervated

Loads in the Western region of the country slipped this week compared with last week as the weather turned a shade cooler. Nevertheless, at least in the California Independent System Operator con-trol area, the demand for power continued to peak above the 40,000 MW level. On Wednesday, Cal-ISO reported a peak load of 41,422 MW--about 400 MW less demand than last week's record peak and the price commanded by electricity on the spot market tracked the dip. Last week's peak-time prices of as much as 74 mills/KWh gave way this week to prices in the 50 mills to 57 mills/KWh range.

In the Northwest, prices were buoyed by the continuing difficulty in bringing the Columbia Gener-ating Station back on line. The plant remained off line at the end of the week.

Peak power costs at Mid Columbia opened on Monday at between 51.75 mills and 52.25 mills/KWh. Prices dropped slightly at the hub on Tuesday, as if anticipating the return of the Co-lumbia nuclear unit, but on Wednesday, when the plant returned to zero output, power prices edged up by a mill or two. By Friday, power at the hub had slipped to between 47.50 mills and 49 mills/KWh.Off-peak prices at Mid-C drew between 43.75 mills and 47 mills/KWh this week.

According to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, the Alberta Electric System Operator lost the Cranbrook-Langdon 500 KV line and two parallel 138 KV lines due to lightning strikes at about 6:50 pm PDT Tuesday. The trips led to the separation of the AESO system from the Western Intercon-nect. As a consequence the Alberta Pool price spiked up to 282.87 for peak-time power and 245.78 for off-peak power briefly on Tuesday. All lines were restored and connection to the WECC was reestab-lished by about 8:30 pm that evening.

The price spread at Western hubs was practically nil this week. High-demand power at the Califor-nia-Oregon Border stuck within the narrow price range of 53 mills to 54.75 mills/KWh during the first half of the week. The cost for peak power at COB slipped to between 50 mills and 50.75 mills/KWh for next Monday deliveries.

Power prices at Palo Verde could muster up little enthusiasm to move out of the 50 mills to 52.50 mills range most the week. When they did move at the end of the week, they wilted to a range of 47 mills and 49 mills/KWh. Up and down the West Coast, power prices reflected the stasis manifested in the weather and supply availability.

In the NP15 zone, peak power changed hands for between 57 mills and 59 mills on Monday. By the end of the week, power at the hub was drawing between 52 mills and 55.25 mills/KWh. The price for low-demand power at NP15 attracted a low of 39.75 mills on Monday and a high of 44 mills/KWh for deliveries early next week.

In the southern part of California, peak power also drew between 57.50 mills and 59 mills/KWh on Monday before shedding a few mills on the upper end of the range at mid week. The cost for power at SP15 held steady at between 53.50 mills and 56 mills/KWh during the last two days of the week. Off-peak power at SP15 topped out at 38.50 mills/KWh during the first two days of the week before sagging to 35.50 mills/KWh in Wednesday trading. Nighttime power prices reached 40.50 mills/KWh in trading for next Monday delivery [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices on a Slow Decline

The price of natural gas on the spot market this week continued a slow fade begun last week. Though there was no dramatic drop in the cost of the commodity, gas at Western basins and delivery points lost between a dime and a quarter in trading this week.

Permian Basin gas opened the week attracting between $5.09 and $5.16/MMBtu. By the end of the week the price had slipped below the $5 mark, closing at between $4.88 and $4.97/MMBtu. San Juan Basin gas dropped as low as $4.73/MMBtu this week, crossing above the $5 line only in Monday trading.

Gas at the Topock delivery point attracted as much as $5.48/MMBtu on Monday before the price slipped as low as $5.08/MMBtu in Thursday trading.

A huge fire ignited at Duke Energy Gas Transmission's Moss Bluff salt cavern storage facility on August 19. The Texas facility is comprised of three storage chambers and only one was on fire. Duke said the conflagration could continue until Saturday, when about 6 Bcf of gas in storage cavern No. 1 will have burned off. Duke said that though the fire will affect its storage customers, it will have no affect on throughput to pipelines. There were no reported injuries from the fire [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
August 16 - 20, 2004
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 28.30-282.87 15.14-245.78
Mid-Columbia 47.50-52.25 43.75-47
COB 49.25-54.75 43.50-48.75
NP 15 52-59 39.75-44
SP 15 52.50-59 35.50-40.50
Palo Verde 47-52.50 33-37

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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