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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
September 17, 2010
Western Prices End Week Mixed

So far the California system has barely surpassed its peak demand forecast for the year. Gregg Fishman, Cal-ISO spokesman, said the agency had expected a peak demand of 47,139 MW during the summer. The year's actual peak of 47,350 MW occurred Aug. 25.

Barring extreme weather, Fishman says this record should hold. This has been a low demand year. Compared to a year ago, for the period of April to August, electricity use was down 3.7 percent, which he attributes to milder weather and a sluggish economy.

Not surprisingly, with demand still low -- peak demand on the grid reached 34,123 MW Sept. 13 at 4 p.m., the week's high -- prices this week skidded along, making only small gains.

Average peak prices at California hubs gained value in the Friday-to-Friday trading period spanning Sept. 10 to Sept. 17, with average values increasing between about $1 and $3/MWh.

Over the six trading days ending Sept. 17, Palo Verde peak power gained slightly more than $3/MWh, trading for an average of $37.46/MWh Friday.

South of Path 15 values for peak power gained $1.51 to $38.57/MWh. North of Path 15 ended at $37.83/MWh for daytime average power, up about $1 for the period.

At the California-Oregon Border, daytime power traded for an average of $38.33/MWh Friday, posting a loss of $2.15/MWh compared with the previous Friday. COB managed to record the week's high for spot prices among Western hubs at $43/MWh.

Meanwhile, Mid-Columbia posted an average price of $36.98/MWh for daytime power Friday, losing about 75 cents during the trading period.

For off-peak power, all the Western hubs gained value throughout the week, with average prices for nighttime power up between about $2.10 and $3.60/MWh (see chart below).

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a 103 Bcf addition to natural gas reserves provided a total of 3.267 Tcf in storage as of Sept. 10. This addition was 36 Bcf more than the 67 Bcf injection last year at this time. Storage is now 192 Bcf greater than the five-year average and has exceeded the five-year average for 25 consecutive weeks, according to the agency.

Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.06/MMBtu on Wednesday, Sept. 15, up 25 cents from the previous Wednesday. By Friday, the average price reached $4.11/MMBtu. Futures contracts for the hub traded at $3.99/MMBtu on Sept. 15, up from $3.81/MMBtu the previous Wednesday.

What's ahead: After rainy weather, Seattle and Portland expect drier conditions Tuesday and Wednesday with isolated showers. A series of fronts should enter the Pacific Northwest starting Friday, Sept. 24. Meteorologists have not issued any predictions beyond the entry of this system into the region. Los Angeles temperatures remain below normal. The forecast calls for "fairly benign and bland" conditions Monday through Thursday. Southern California expects temperatures at least five degrees below seasonal norms at the coast, with near-seasonal temperatures in the mountains and deserts [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: September 13 - 17, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 14.39-296 13.42-37.43
Mid-Columbia 34.75-41.25 27.25-33.25
COB 37.75-43 27.75-33
NP 15* 37.50-40.50 27.50-31.50
SP 15* 37.80-40.75 25.50-31.50
Palo Verde 36-42 23.50-31.25

* 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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