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Western Price Survey

August 21, 2015
Wild Weather Sways Prices

Power prices went on a rollercoaster in recent weeks, rising on hot temperatures then plunging as electricity demand dropped.

One-hundred-degree-plus temperatures singed Southern California and Arizona between Aug. 14 and 19. In Arizona, 68 different record-high temperatures were broken; in California the number was 82. Some California records had been held for 120 or more years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Demand peaked on the Cal-ISO grid at 44,142 MW Aug. 17. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 60,877 MW Aug. 19.

Intense 115-degree heat plus high overnight temps drove power demand in the Phoenix area. The Salt River Project reported a record peak demand of 6,806 MW on Aug. 16.

In California, total renewable-energy production reached 11,603 MW Aug. 19, according to Cal-ISO. Solar power production reached a record peak of 6,376 MW Aug. 20, surpassing the prior 6,294 MW high recorded earlier in the month. The same day saw a new instantaneous solar peak of 6,391 MW.

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With relatively cooler weather on the horizon, average peak power prices fell between $11.90 and $15.90/MWh in the trading week (see chart). Palo Verde posted the largest drop, down $15.90 to $31.35/MWh by Aug. 21. Average daytime prices ranged from $30.45/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $38.05/MWh at South of Path 15.

Nighttime power prices proved less variable, with Palo Verde losing $6.40 to an average of $23.35/MWh. At the end of the trading week, prices ranged from $23.10 at Mid-C to $23.35/MWh at Palo Verde.

Cal-ISO is "very closely" monitoring the Rough Fire in Fresno and Tulare counties as it continues to threaten 230 kV transmission lines. A firefighting team is being solely tasked with protecting Pacific Gas & Electric infrastructure, according to the inter-agency incident information website InciWeb.

"We do have a plan to de-energize any power lines needed to protect firefighters and help fire suppression efforts, and have de-energized some smaller distribution lines already," said PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles.

Boyles said the utility is preparing its hydroelectric facilities for the approaching fire, pre-treating power poles with fire retardant, removing hazardous trees and increasing safety clearances around power facilities. It is also evacuating its Balch Camp facility. The fire in the Sierra National Forest had grown to 39,400 acres as of Aug. 21 and is now only 3 percent contained [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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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