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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
September 23, 2011
Western Energy Prices End Lower

Western energy prices failed to sustain gains as the week progressed.

Over the Friday-to-Friday trading period running from Sept. 16 to Sept. 23, natural gas prices fell about 10 cents/MMBtu and average peak-power prices, which saw an uptick on Tuesday, lost a few dollars.

For natural gas, PG&E CityGate lost 9 cents over the trading period to an average of $4.10/MMBtu. Malin and Ruby-Malin gas each lost around 7 cents, ending at $3.73/MMBtu. Southern California Border was down 7 cents to $3.93.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Admini-stration's Sept. 22 report, natural gas spot prices declined across the board for the week "as mild fall temperatures reduced air conditioning demand. Most declines were in the double digits, and prices at many trading points fell more than 20 cents over the report week."

Working gas in storage was 3,201 Bcf as of Friday, Sept. 16, according to EIA estimates, a net increase of 89 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 129 Bcf less than last year at this time and 35 Bcf below the five-year average of 3,236 Bcf.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid was expected to reach 38,530 MW Friday evening, the week's high. Demand should remain less than 38,500 MW in the week ahead, according to the grid operator. Northwest Power Pool demand increased incrementally, with the week's high of 50,592 MW posted Thursday, Sept. 22.

Here's how average peak-power prices fared over the Friday-to-Friday trading period:

  • Mid-C: Lost $2.70 to about $31.25/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Dropped around $5.60 to $35/MWh.
  • NP15: Posted no trades Friday; traded for $38.50/MWh Sept. 22.
  • SP15: Down almost $3.80 to roughly $36.90/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Lost around $3.45 to about $34.80/MWh.

Nighttime average prices at Western hubs were also lower during the trading period, with Northwest-ern hubs posting the greatest losses. Spot prices during the week ranged from roughly $22 to $32/MWh (see chart).

The 1,150 MW Columbia Generating Station began ramping up on Tuesday, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As of Friday, Sept. 23, the plant continued operating at 2 percent of its capacity. The Richland, Wash., nuclear facility, run by Energy Northwest, had been off line for refueling and mainte-nance since April 1.

What's ahead: Starting Monday, Sept. 26, Seattle expects rain with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-50s through Tuesday. Area temperatures move into the 60s on Wednesday and Thursday. Portland will be cloudy into Thursday. San Francisco should be warm and dry Tuesday and Wednesday, with high temperatures in the 70s, but a system from the Gulf of Alaska will bring cooler temperatures by Thursday. Downtown Los Angeles high temperatures reach into the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday, then drop into the low 80s on Thursday [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: September 19 - 23, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 21.75-144.544 15.06-33.37
Mid-Columbia 30.25-39 27-31
COB 34-45.50 28.50-32
NP 15* 38.50-44.25 27.50-28
SP 15* 36.50-44.25 26-28.75
Palo Verde 33-44.25 22-27

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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