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Western Price Survey / Archives

August 31, 2001
Holiday for Power Traders and Consumers Starts Early

If you were only looking at utility demand, you might think the extended Labor Day holiday started early, as load graphs started flattening and power prices fell to holiday levels well before the weekend began. Part of the reason was the advanced trading schedule so traders could wrap up their monthly books as well as preschedule for the three-day hiatus, but mostly, it was a case of moderate weather quelling the marketplace.

Electricity had been poised for an upward swing earlier based on an expected return of hot weather, but by Wednesday there was an across the board drop in prices that pulled peak prices down to the low point of the summer. As traders put together Saturday/Sunday packages, the round the clock prices were closer to the off-peak levels than to daylight pricing structures.

Cal-ISO's actual load for Monday topped out at 40,400 MW and stepped lower as the week progressed. Thursday's figure was just 33,800 MW and Cal-ISO expected a mere 31,900 MW peak on Friday.

Prices fell below the low points reached last weekend, with Mid- Columbia peak going for 25 mills/KWh, the California/Oregon Border at 26 mills, and NP15 and SP near 25 mills/KWh for flat products. Off- peak power prices, when there were transactions, were in the 20 mills to 22 mills/KWh bracket.

Palo Verde price dropped from a high of 57 mills on Tuesday to less than half that, coming in the 27.5 mills to 34 mills/KWh range heading into the weekend. Four Corners was centered in the 27 mills to 30 mills range. Off-peak actually picked up slightly in the Southwest, rising from a trough of 19.25 mills to the 22 mills to 23.5 mills/KWh bracket.

Generation availability was no problem, and even though the Cal-ISO list of unit outages bulged to about 5,275 MW Thursday morning, it was mostly from planned maintenance. Units at South Bay, Morro Bay, Redondo and Alamitos all checked out before the holiday, with permission slips from Cal-ISO, which cancelled its "no touch" notices midweek. The new Sutter power plant was down to about half capacity, Cal-ISO said. Nukes throughout the region were at or near full power this week.

The start of a new month may bring unexpected shifts in prices, but forward transactions on Enron-Online indicated more of the same. September blocks dropped to about 33 mills at SP15 and 34 mills to 35 mills at Palo Verde [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Rally Fizzles

Though traders tried to make the most of end-of-month balancing to squeeze a little more money out of buyers, the overall market wound down toward the extended Labor Day holiday and prices stayed put in late week trading. Even a continuing fire at gas processing facilities in Alberta did not cause much of a price increase for Canadian supplies, though some expect the blaze to last for weeks.

The biggest movement came at Topock, where the SoCal Border price slipped from about $2.88/MMBtu early in the week to $2.57/MMBtu. San Juan fell from $2.30 to $2.24/MMBtu and Permian eased from $2.60 to $2.32/MMBtu.

In Alberta, the index price rose a bit to (C)3.32/Gigajoule midweek before trailing down to $3.14/MMBtu.

The continued bolstering of storage was part of the reason for contained prices. National injection figures showed 76 Bcf of gas going into the ground, bringing the total storage to nearly 2.5 Tcf. In the West, another 9 Bcf was socked away, boosting reserves to 411 Bcf, well above the five-year average of 350 Bcf for the last week of August [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of August 27-31, 2001
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 39-64 10-39
Mid-Columbia 25-44 20-30
COB 26-45 20.5-30.5
NP 15 25-49 10.75-31
SP 15 25-49.5 19-29
Palo Verde 27-57 19.5-33

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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