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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
August 31, 2012
Prices Mixed at End of Month

Western power and natural gas prices ended in a hodgepodge Friday as traders prepared for the end of the month and the Labor Day holiday.

Peak-power prices were inconsistent, with mixed prices at both Northwest and California-Arizona hubs.

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

  • Mid-Columbia: Up $3.60 to about $28.30/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Lost about $2.40 to $30.05/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Posted no trades Friday; last traded at roughly $30.45/MWh.
  • South of Path 15: Jumped $7.05 to $44/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Dropped about $4.65 to $30.85/MWh.

Off-peak prices were also mixed by week's end, with most hubs posting gains of between about $1.15 and $4.10 over the trading period. NP15 lost 40 cents, ending at $26.50/MWh. Off-peak prices Friday ranged from around $23.30/MWh at Mid-C to roughly $29.55/MWh at SP15.

Working gas in storage reached 3,374 Bcf as of Aug. 24, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 66 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 14.6 percent higher than a year ago and 12 percent above the five-year average.

Enerfax reports that although this was a record storage amount for this time of year "and a level that wasn't touched in 2011 until the end of September," traders seemed to "put more focus on forecasts for hot weather in the near term, which will likely boost demand."

Natural gas prices ended mixed over the Friday-to-Friday trading period. Henry Hub natural gas lost 8 cents to $2.72/MMBtu. In the West, the gainers were PG&E CityGate gas -- which jumped 13 cents to $3.06/MMBtu -- and Southern California Border, which gained 8 cents to $2.91. Malin gas was down 2 cents over the trading period, finishing at $2.62/MMBtu.

Demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 43,315 MW Wednesday, which was the week's peak use. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 54,650 MW Tuesday.

Cal-ISO renewables production continues breaking records. The grid operator reported 1,064 MW of peak solar production on Aug. 27.

What's ahead: Los Angeles expects partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s Monday through Thursday, while San Francisco should be around 70 °F for the same period.

Meanwhile, Seattle should be in the mid-to-high 70s starting Monday, Sept. 3. Temperatures should reach 79 °F Thursday. Portland should be in the 80s starting Tuesday.

The National Weather Service long-range forecast for Sept. 6-10 predicts warmer-than-normal temperatures for most of the West; however, the California coast should experience temperatures below seasonal norms [Linda Dailey Paulson].


Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: August 27 - 31, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 9.24-974.12 10.59-101.01
Mid-Columbia 21-31 15.25-24.50
COB 24.25-42.50 18.25-25.25
NP 15* 30.25-37 21-26.50
SP 15* 34.50-46.50 21.85-30
Palo Verde 25-41 19-26

* 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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