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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 24, 2012
Western Power Prices Mixed After Highs

Peak-power prices at most Western hubs dipped Friday as demand softened following last week's triple-digit temperatures, which had sent prices in the Pacific Northwest skyrocketing.

Only Palo Verde eked out a gain, up a dollar in the Aug. 17 to Aug. 24 trading period. The hub ended trading Friday at about $35.50/MWh.

Here's how other Western hubs' average peak prices fared since last Friday:

  • Mid-Columbia: Lost almost $3.75 to roughly $24.70/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Down around $1.90 to $32.45/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Dropped about $6.45 to around $32.35/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Lost $2.85 to $36.95/MWh.

Off-peak prices were also mixed by week's end, with nominal changes over the trading period. SP15 led losers, dropping $1.15 to about $26.85/MWh by Friday. Off-peak prices Friday ranged from around $19.20/MWh at Mid-C to about $26.85/MWh at SP15.

Working gas in storage reached 3,308 Bcf as of Friday, Aug. 17, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 47 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 14.7 percent higher than a year ago and 12.1 percent above the five-year average.

Western spot natural gas prices made slight gains over the trading period. Henry Hub natural gas rose 10 cents, trading Friday at $2.80/MMBtu. In the West, Ruby-Malin gas gained 6 cents, ending at $2.65/MMBtu, while Malin was up 3 cents to $2.64.

Wildfires throughout the West -- most notably in California, Washington and Idaho -- remain a concern.

The Ponderosa fire in Shasta and Tehama counties, which started Aug. 18 after a lightning strike, has now grown to 28,098 acres. It was 68 percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Paul Moreno, a Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman, said power has been restored to all its customers in the area.

The Chips fire remains active and continues interrupting service. PG&E de-energized distribution lines near Canyon Dam Tuesday and Wednesday night at firefighters' request, leaving 1,400 customers around Lake Almanor without power. Service was completely restored within hours each time after crews rerouted power, Moreno said. The fire is now 55 percent contained, according to, a federal interagency information website.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 42,991 MW Monday. The Northwest Power Pool recorded demand of 56,973 MW Monday.

Cal-ISO renewables production continues breaking records. The grid operator reported 1,052 MW of peak solar production Thursday, Aug. 23. Record-breaking generation should continue as new solar sources come on line in the state this year and next.

What's ahead: Sunny to partly cloudy skies are expected across the West into Thursday. Los Angeles temperatures should be in the low-to-mid-70s, while San Francisco will hover near the 70-degree mark throughout the week. Seattle should stay around 71 °F through Thursday and Portland should be in the mid-70s [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: August 20 - 24, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 13.34-688.33 11.92-85.43
Mid-Columbia 20.75-27.50 13-21
COB 24-37 16-23.50
NP 15* 29.75-32.75 21.15-22
SP 15* 33.25-40.50 21.75-27.25
Palo Verde 30-36.50 18.50-25

* 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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