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Western Price Survey

August 23, 2013
Cal-ISO Watching California Fires

Fires throughout California are causing concern, but so far they have not disrupted power transmission.

There were 25,400 lighting strikes statewide that sparked 100 new fires between the night of Aug. 19 and the morning of Aug. 20, Cal Fire reported. By Aug. 22, there were 45 new fires in Northern California alone from 4,400 lightning strikes.

The fire of greatest concern is burning outside Yosemite. The Rim Fire, the origin of which remain under investigation, started Aug. 17 and remains only 2 percent contained. It has spread to 165 square miles and has reached Yosemite, but is not threatening the high-voltage network at this time, according to Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for Cal-ISO. "While there have been a lot of wildfires sparked from lightning strikes, they have not tripped any high-voltage lines this week," he said, "but we are watching conditions closely."

California peak-power prices added about a dol-lar in the Aug. 16 to Aug. 23 trading period, while Northwest hubs slid roughly $4/MWh (see chart).

Northwest hydro generation continues tapering off, with production less than 10,000 MW between Aug. 19 and Aug. 21. Production dropped to nearly 4,500 MW during that period, according to the Bonneville Power Administration.

Off-peak power prices were mixed, but relatively static in Friday-to-Friday trading. Prices Aug. 23 ranged from $28.60/MWh at Palo Verde to $37.80/MWh at SP15.

Working gas in storage reached 3,063 Bcf as of Friday, Aug. 16, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 57 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 7.2 percent less than a year ago and 1.5 percent greater than the five-year average.

Despite recent additions that exceeded expecta-tions, Barclays analysts still expect 3.8 Tcf of natural gas in storage by the conclusion of storage season. That would still fall below storage at the end of last season -- there was 3.923 Tcf of natural gas in storage as of Oct. 31, 2012, and a record 3.929 Tcf in storage for the week ending Nov. 2, 2012, according to the EIA.

Henry Hub natural gas values gained 15 cents since last Friday, trading Aug. 23 at $3.50/MMBtu. Western hubs outpaced the price increase (see table).

What's ahead: The National Weather Service forecasts an increased probability of above-normal temperatures from Washington into Southern California and Arizona from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5. During that same period, Southern California and Arizona are forecast to have above-median precipitation [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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


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

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