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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
September 7, 2007
Prices Drop on Lower Demand and Retreating Heat, Then Gain Strength

Western wholesale power prices were tame after last week's high demand and temperatures, but still managed to gain some strength as the trading week progressed.

Before the recent heat wave ended, demand in Southern California rose to record levels. The heat also caused distribution outages and left some customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric without power for more than 24 hours. However, peak demand across the state fell precipitously and wasn't even topping 40,000 MW by Friday.

In unit news, Mirant Delta's 337 MW Contra Costa Unit No. 6 and its 337 MW Unit No. 7 have been off line all week.

North of Path 15 peak prices, opening Tuesday trading around $58/MWh, finished the week around $62. Off-peak power gained about $10 for the week, finishing at a high of $50/MWh in Friday trading.

Peak prices at South of Path 15 climbed from $57/MWh for Wednesday deliveries to $64 Friday. Nighttime power prices moved only a couple of dollars and averaged around $40/MWh through Thursday before spiking Friday to an average of $49.

Heavy-power prices at the Palo Verde hub defied the pattern set in California and actually lost value after a brief spike Wednesday, the only day prices reached above $60/MWh. Traders couldn't stem the tide after the normal Thursday decline, however, and the week's low trade came Friday at $53.25/MWh. Off-peak prices, on the other hand, moved solidly up from $31.75/MWh Tuesday to $44 Friday.

Even as the need for export power in California eased with the heat wave's end and seasonable temperatures arrived in the Northwest, peak prices at the California-Oregon border and Mid-Columbia were up for the week. Tuesday at COB, heavy power traded on average for $58/MWh, a full $10 lower than Friday's average. The average off-peak price also rose about $10/MWh over the week, though one exchange reported a low trade of $38/MWh Friday.

At the Mid-C hub, average peak prices also followed the Western pattern. They climbed from around $52/MWh Tuesday to about $62/MWh Friday. Average off-peak power prices climbed to $50.52 by Friday.

Next week, temperatures around the West are expected to be mostly seasonable with slightly higher-than-normal temperatures for inland California and the Southwest. Palm Springs is forecast to reach 107 degrees and Phoenix may reach as high as 105 degrees [Charles Redell].

Natural Gas Prices Climb After West Makes Withdrawal From Storage

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that the West took 4 Bcf out of its natural gas stores last week, leaving the region right where it was last year at this time with 406 Bcf in storage. In the relatively cooler East, 39 Bcf went into storage.

Natural gas values rose through Thursday before pricing pressure fell Friday, on the usual lower-weekend-demand pattern. It's worth noting that overall, storage levels are at record levels. Traders have taken some notice, as gas at all the major hubs serving California has been trading in relatively modest territory. Natural gas values tended to make big gains in the early week, and then dropped on Friday.

Prices at the Permian Basin swung almost 60 cents/MMBtu Tuesday from $4.60 to $5.17. The rest of the week prices edged up about 20 cents/MMBtu each day until Thursday's high of $5.75. Friday brought trades in the range of $5 to $5.18.

At San Juan, New Mexico, Tuesday's $4.60/MMBtu average was left behind as prices averaged $5.50 there on Thursday. By Friday, however, average prices were back below $5/MMBtu.

Traders at the Southern California border pushed values up almost $1/MMBtu until Thursday, but lost almost all those gains Friday.

Average prices were calmer at Malin, Ore., where prices moved up about 60 cents/MMBtu through Thursday from about $5.08. However, those gains were lost Friday and the week ended with prices near where they had been at the start of the week [C. R.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: September 3 - 7, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 9.52-667.76 7.13-272.12
Mid-Columbia 50.25-62.25 38-53
COB 56.75-69 41.25-53
NP 15 57.25-64.45 39-50
SP 15 57-64 38.25-51
Palo Verde 53.25-62 31.75-44

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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