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Western Price Survey / Archives

September 05, 2003
Post-Holiday Trading Remains Firmish

Warm temperatures throughout California kept electricity demand fairly robust during the week. As usual in the dog days of summer, thermometers in the Central Valley peaked in the triple digits and were forecast to continue doing so. Still, reserve margins according to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council remain in the 7 percent to 9 percent range for the state and well above 10 percent in the Northwest, Rocky Mountains and Southwest.

The California Independent System Operator recorded demand of about 40,000 MW for each day this week. The grid operator had plenty of power to match load, as the off-line power count this week hov-ered in the fairly innocuous range of 2,000 MW to 2,400 MW. A few major outages graced the Cal-ISO generation-outage Web site, including a few units on forced-outage status carried over from last week.

The 320 MW Etiwanda No. 4 unit, the 335 MW El Segundo No. 3 unit and the 227 MW La Paloma No. 1 facility remain off line. The 571 MW Sunrise Aggregate II facility joined them for a few hours on Wednesday, but the facility was back on line by late afternoon that day. Another unit that has been on forced-outage status for a few weeks now is Pacific Gas & Electric's 163 MW Hunters Point No. 4. Thursday evening, the 178 MW Redondo No. 5 unit tripped off line and Huntington Beach's 227 MW No. 4 unit followed it Friday morning.

The region's nuclear power plants remained in good health this week, with all units operating at full capacity.

The price for power throughout the region this week tracked figures recorded at the end of last week. Peak power at Palo Verde ranged between 51 mills and 56.50 mills/KWh in Tuesday trading and spiked up to 59.50 mills/KWh for some trades the following day. The customary price drop-off for weekend deliv-eries brought the peak price down to between 46 mills and 54.50 mills/KWh on Friday. Off-peak power at the hub sold for between 32.50 mills and 36.95 mills/KWh during the week but perked up to the 43.25 mills to 45.50 mills/KWh range by the end of the week.

In the Northwest, the Mid-Columbia price for peak power stayed relatively flat, moving between 42.25 mills and 49 mills/KWh over the course of the week. Off-peak power followed suit, keeping to the 33 mills to 37 mills/KWh range, though Friday's trading nudged that up to 41 mills/KWh [Shauna O'Donnell].

Stocks Continue to Build

This week's Energy Information Administration figures for injections of gas into the nation's storage was about 4 Bcf less than had been projected, but the 70 Bcf put into storage facilities this week did boost total stocks up to 2.389 Tcf. Huge gains in stored quantity have been made in the last few months. At the start of the summer, storage stocks were about 57 percent less than at the same time last year. Cur- rently, stocks are estimated to be about 14 percent be-low 2002 levels.

The Environmental Protection Agency's ruling easing requirements for coal-fired power plants gener-ated some buzz in the natural gas community this week. With less stringent new-source review rules for coal-fired plants, power producers may be less in-clined to replace the units with gas-fired facilities. Analysts speculated that 3.6 Bcfd of gas use might be displaced as a result of the new rules.

Prices throughout the West stuck to the same mo-dus operandi as electricity prices this week. Little volatil-ity was seen at various hubs and the cost of gas neither rose nor fell significantly over the course of the week.

For example, trading at San Juan opened this trun- cated week at $4.45/MMBtu, dipped to around $4.35/MMBtu, then returned to the $4.40/MMBtu re-gion by the end of the week. Topock and SF CityGate gas stayed above the pack, with Topock closing the week between $4.70 and $4.76/MMBtu. CityGate traded slightly higher, hitting the $5.00/MMBtu mark two days out of four this week [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of September 1-5, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 24.64-252.34 10.37-56.12
Mid-Columbia 42.25-49 33-41
COB 44-54.25 38-43
NP 15 47.50-57 36-45.50
SP 15 49-58 35-46.50
Palo Verde 46-59.50 34.75-45.50

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


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Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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