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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 30, 2002
Summer Not Over, but Market Acts Like It Is

As traders put an early end to the week with advanced scheduling prior to the Labor Day holiday, the top end of power prices dropped but the bottom end picked up, largely as a result of diminished hydroelectricity production in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California.

Off-peak pricing everywhere moved higher, even for Friday/Saturday deliveries in deals made midweek. There may be some erosion to the light load prices for Sunday/Monday deals as the holiday load factor kicks in, or prices for the entire day might well converge.

Bonneville Power Administration gradually decreased its daily offer, then set a 500 MW off-peak limit for Sunday/Monday-though it will likely treat all day as off-peak during the holidays. Mid-Columbia prices bounced to 26 mills midweek but then dropped to the 22 mills to 24 mills/KWh range at the same time that off- peak power rose to about 22 mills/KWh.

There were marginal differences in northern pricing, with California/Oregon Border seen at 25 mills and 26 mills/KWh on peak, and the NP15 price hanging between 30 mills and 32 mills/KWh. Overnight prices all converged in the same 22 mills to 23 mills/KWh bracket.

SP15 proved to be the top price setter this week, rising to 37 mills early and maintaining the 31 mills to 32.5 mills/KWh in late trading. The off-peak price held to the 16 mills to 19 mills range.

After starting the week at 37 mills, Palo Verde bobbed around mainly in a range of 29 mills to 31 mills/KWh. Off-peak at Palo perked up to 17.5 mills to 19 mills, from about 14 mills earlier. The restoration of service at Four Corners kept a lid on the off-peak price at 15 mills/KWh, though Mead ran between 16 mills and 20 mills/KWh.

California afternoon loads had been on the rise with some warmish temperatures settling over the region. Cal-ISO clocked 37,500 MW on Tuesday but trailed off the about 34,200 MW by the end of the week. Outages were fairly steady at 8,000 MW with few surprises. The Diablo Canyon No. 1 was at 98 percent all week after having been down to half capacity over the previous weekend.

With forecast temperatures somewhat below normal for the next six days, few expected much life in the market. "Everything's back to steady state," reported one scheduler. Looking ahead, the Columbia Generating Station will drop to 65 percent over the weekend for scheduled maintenance on a feeder pump. BPA said it will sell 500 MW of power for Tuesday, both in peak and off-peak periods [Arthur O'Donnell].

Big Injections Bring Out the Bulls

Although Western gas prices were above the $3/MMBtu mark everywhere but at San Juan and Wyoming gathering basins, mild weather and the looming holiday weekend exerted downward pressure on prices Thursday. Adding to the gravity of the situation was the weekly storage report, documenting a 59 Bcf injection last week nationally, with 8 Bcf of that going into Western storage facilities.

As a result, daily prices on the NYMEX plummeted by nearly $0.50/MMBtu and forward prices tanked as well.

SoCal Border/Topock slipped to $2.97/MMBtu while Permian Basin costs slid to $2.90/MMBtu. The San Juan Basin tried to hold on to the $2.53 to $2.65/MMBtu range it finally achieved after starting the week at $2.25, but in Wyoming, the Opal price sank to just $0.76/MMBtu.

Low demand was cited as the cause of the basin blowout, but earlier in the week, maintenance on San Juan lines had limited flows, shutting in gas.

In the region, only the San Francisco CityGate kept above $3.10, though Malin gave way to the $2.93 t0 $2.97/MMBtu range.

Alberta diminished from its $(C)3.44/Gigajoule starting point to land at $3.16/Gj before the weekend, where Monday will be business as usual in Canada [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of August 26-30, 2002
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 25.5-376 12.7
Mid-Columbia 19-26 17-22
COB 25-26 19-22.5
NP 15 30-33 20-23
SP 15 30-37 16-19
Palo Verde 29.5-37 14-19.5

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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