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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
September 14, 2012
Power, Natural Gas Prices Rise

Peak-power prices in the West increased this week as a result of warmer weather, forecast to last through the weekend, which has boosted demand.

Coastal Los Angeles temperatures were forecast to reach the 90s on Sept. 14, with inland areas expected to hit 105 °F.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 41,314 MW Thursday. The week's high was expected Friday, Sept. 14, when use was expected to reach 44,653 MW, according to the grid operator's forecast. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 50,171 MW Sept. 13, with the week's high -- 50,351 MW -- expected the following day.

Here's how average peak-power prices fared over the Sept. 7-14 trading period:

  • Mid-Columbia: Up about $4.75 to almost $26.55/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Jumped almost $8.30 to $35.55/MWh.
  • North of Path 15: Posted no trades Sept. 7; traded at $39/MWh Sept. 14.
  • South of Path 15: Gained roughly $5.35 to about $45.60/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Rose about $2.40 to $30.15/MWh.

Off-peak prices also increased by week's end, with hubs gaining between roughly a dollar and almost $5.55 over the trading period. Off-peak prices Friday ranged from around $25.75/MWh at Mid-C to $33.25/MWh at SP15.

Bonneville Power Administration spokesman Michael Milstein says runoff has ended. "We're now in that period where what's in the water are baseline inputs -- glacial melt, spring water." Peak hydro generation in the region was nearly 9,600 MW Sept. 13.

Working gas in storage reached 3,429 Bcf as of Friday, Sept. 7, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 27 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 11.1 percent higher than a year ago and 9 percent above the five-year average.

Although roughly six weeks remain before the end of injection season, the report gives traders an indication of where storage might stand this fall. This particular addition to storage was much less than some analysts expected.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac did stem some natural gas production. The EIA reported its natural gas processing-plant operations data "showed that Hurricane Isaac caused considerable disruption to processing infrastructure, although it had a negligible effect on natural gas prices because of ample onshore production and surplus storage."

Over the trading period, Henry Hub natural gas gained 21 cents, trading Friday at $2.94/MMBtu. In the West, PG&E CityGate gas jumped 33 cents to $3.39/MMBtu, while Southern California Border gas gained 23 cents to $3.15/MMBtu.

What's ahead: The downtown Los Angeles area expects temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s starting Monday, Sept. 17, through Sept. 20. Coastal areas should be around the mid-70s for that same period. Daytime temperatures in Seattle should be in the 70s into Thursday, with Portland in the 80s. San Francisco expects highs nearing 70 °F into Thursday.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting on Oct. 9 to discuss the status of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Both units of the 2,200 MW facility have been off line since January [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: September 10 - 14, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.84-709.23 10.15-26.94
Mid-Columbia 24-32 21.50-26.25
COB 27-37 23-30
NP 15* 37.75-41 22-30
SP 15* 38.50-49.50 22.25-33.25
Palo Verde 25.50-33.50 21-28

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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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