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Western Price Survey / Archives

September 10, 1999
Market Beached by Moderate Loads

The Western electricity trading revived from a long holiday weekend, but mild weather and a relatively quiet marketplace brought little price movement this week. While the thermometer crested above 100 degrees F in parts of Southern California and the Desert Southwest, below-average temperatures in Northern California, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest helped keep utility loads in check.

"The weather is mild, everything is healthy, and we're not buying much," was the consensus among traders across the region.

Most hubs pegged their trades to the California Power Exchange price, which barely wavered between 35 mills and 36 mills/KWh midweek for daytime deliveries after moving out of the holiday trough of 27 mills/KWh. Individual peak hours on Wednesday afternoon's "day-of" market reached as much as 49 mills/KWh but the overall average held tight. Overnight prices crept up to 27.25 mills/KWh on Wednesday but overall PX loads stuck right around 600 MWh once the trading week got off the ground.

Peak prices at the California/Oregon Border and Palo Verde moved as high as 36 mills/KWh but eased a little to 33.25 mills to 34 mills/KWh. Mid-Columbia moved between 26 mills and 31 mills/KWh. Bonneville Power Administration upped its surplus power offerings from 29 mills to 33 mills/KW for Northwest deliveries and from 30 mills to 34 mills/KWh for COB/NOB sales on Thursday through Saturday-mostly playing catch-up with the PX price. Notable, though, was BPA's increase of its offered surplus from 200 MW to 400 MW, indicating somewhat more hydroelectricity available to the marketplace.

California hydro operators report healthy reservoir levels with more than enough water in storage to meet irrigation commitments and power sale opportunities. Come October 1, excess water will be released from major reservoirs in order to make room for autumn rainfall.

Off-peak prices generally held in the 21 mills to 24 mills/KWh range, with light-load prices at Palo Verde slipping to 19 mills late in the week.

Boiler-tube leaks at San Juan Unit No. 1 knocked the plant off line early in the week and kept it out of service until Friday morning, traders said. Otherwise, there was little news of generation outages or transmission curtailments. Palo Verde No. 3 was reduced last weekend to 75 percent on feedwater pump repairs, but it was back to 100 percent by Wednesday morning and remained at full operations the rest of the week. WNP-2 continues sliding toward a refueling outage this month; it was reported at 75 percent of capacity Thursday [Arthur O'Donnell].

Stalwart Gas Prices Come Charging Back

The bottom that fell out of the gas market last week roared back to bolster prices at Western hubs this week, with premiums at several hubs rising as much as $0.40/MMBtu. Traders attributed the strong demand to rising NYMEX futures prices and continued healthy prices paid for generation in electric markets.

With the price-point spread widening between the AECO hub in Canada and Western US outlets, stakeholders looked to northern supplies. "It was economical this week to bring Canadian gas down on an interruptible basis until you couldn't force any more through," said one trader.

The fervor to get gas through to Pacific Gas & Electric's Citygate point caused as-available gas deliveries at Malin to be constrained Wednesday and Thursday. Despite the tightening of supplies there, Malin prices still shot from $2.27 early in the week to $2.52/MMBtu for Friday deliveries. Citygate reached $2.88 late in the week, up from the low $2.70/MMBtu range.

Prices at the San Juan basin bounded from an even $2 to $2.49/MMBtu, while supplies at the Permian hub leapt from $2.15 to $2.62/MMBtu for Friday. Southern California border gas sold at $2.40 early in the week before jumping to $2.81/MMBtu.

Alberta index prices stayed in a tighter range early in the week, moving between $(C) 3.07/Gigajoule and $3.10/Gj. By Friday, the high end of the range ballooned to $3.24/Gj [Jason Mihos].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of September 6-10, 1999
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 32-38 mills/KWh 5.8-19.6 mills/KWh
California PX (WAC) 27-36.8 18.5-27.1
Mid-Columbia 26-30 21-22
COB 30.5-36 21-23
Palo Verde 32-36 19-24

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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