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Western Price Survey

September 1, 2017
Western Prices Seesaw With Heat

Extended heat coupled with the upcoming Labor Day holiday caused Western power prices to rollercoaster throughout the week.

Prices edged up starting Aug. 31, but by the end of trading Sept. 1, Western average hub prices dropped between $12.05 and as much as $35.05 compared with the previous Friday, when prices exceeded $102/MWh. South of Path 15 peak power lost the most, down $35 to $83.15/MWh.

Friday trades were earmarked for Sept. 5 delivery. Markets will close Monday, Sept. 4, in observance of Labor Day.

Off-peak values at most hubs gained between $3.70 and $7.15 in the trading period. SP15 eroded just 50 cents to $48.50/MWh.

Working natural gas in storage was 3,155 Bcf as of Aug. 25, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 30 Bcf compared with the previous week.

Henry Hub gas spot values shed 7 cents to reach $2.90/MMBtu between Aug. 24 and 31.

Among Western hubs, Southern California Border gained the most, up 70 cents to end at $3.53/MMBtu. Alberta natural gas posted the greatest loss, down 19 cents to $1.36/MMBtu.

Total renewable generation on the California Independent System Operator grid during the week reached 12,011 MW Aug. 29, and thermal generation peaked at 26,822 Aug. 28. CAISO called Flex Alerts Aug. 29 and Sept. 1.

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CAISO demand peaked at 47,297 MW Aug. 28; however, the week’s high was expected to occur Sept. 1, with peak grid demand of 50,891 MW. If reached, that peak would surpass the all-time record of 50,270 MW, set July 27, 2006.

Columbia Generating Station in Washington has begun returning to service following an Aug. 20 emergency shutdown. The facility was operating at 3 percent of capacity as of Sept. 1, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data.

In August, average natural gas prices varied in comparison to those in August 2016 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price at Henry Hub was $3/MMBtu, about 6 cents/MMBtu more than last year. SoCal Border natural gas was 40 cents higher, at $4.11/MMBtu.

During the month, multiple heat waves sent Western prices and demand soaring. Between Aug. 1 and 4, scorching temperatures in the Pacific Northwest prompted record-high summer demand.

Average Western power prices in August were between $21.70 and roughly $84/MWh higher than in 2016. North of Path 15 had the greatest differential, although only six trades took place during the month. –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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