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Western Price Survey

August 31, 2018
As Demand Wanes, Energy Prices Stay Calm

Western energy price movements were relatively tame in Aug. 23 to Aug. 30 trading compared with recent weeks, thanks to lower demand.

California Independent System Operator demand peaked at 37,076 MW Aug. 29, which should be the week’s high. Energy consumption over the trading week was down roughly 14 percent compared with the previous week, when grid demand reached 43,028 MW. Thermal generation sources supplied 13,306 MW, or roughly 36 percent of demand, on Aug. 29.

Average Western peak power prices generally decreased in Thursday-to-Thursday trading. Mid-Columbia daytime power was the exception, gaining $2.15 to reach $26.95/MWh. Daytime power prices ranged from $26.95/MWh at Mid-C to $39.40/MWh at South of Path 15.

Palo Verde peak power lost the most value in trading, down $4.05, a drop of 11 percent.

Off-peak power prices varied in Thursday-to-Thursday trading. California-Oregon Border nighttime power remained flat at $25.25/MWh. Mid-C off-peak power gained $1.70 to reach $23.75/MWh, while Palo Verde off-peak power dropped $4.50, or 16 percent, to $24/MWh.

Renewables on the CAISO grid reached 15,407 MW Aug. 27, supplying 44 percent of demand. Solar production supplied 30 percent of demand that same day, while imports satisfied roughly a third of demand.

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Henry Hub natural gas spot prices shed 7 cents in Aug. 23 to Aug. 30 trading, ending at $2.90/MMBtu.

In the West, Malin natural gas values remained even at $2.40/MMBtu, but several other hubs shed value. PG&E CityGate natural gas prices lost 14 cents to close Aug. 30 at $3.16/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian Basin dropped 61 cents to $1.34/MMBtu.

Natural gas prices in Southern California bucked the trend. SoCal CityGate gas values jumped 81 cents to $4.81/MMBtu, while SoCal Border prices moved a nominal 2 cents to $2.54/MMBtu.

National natural gas use was unchanged at roughly 62 Bcf/d between Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Of that, about 35 Bcf/d was used for power generation, the amount of which was also unchanged during the agency’s reporting period. Demand in the West decreased the most, with 0.7 Bcf/d less natural gas used during the agency’s report week.

The EIA noted that Southern California Gas Co. forecast its Aug. 30 demand would be 6 percent greater week over week, which means less natural gas is being added to storage.
–Linda Dailey Paulson

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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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