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Western Price Survey / Archives

September 26, 2003
Monday, Monday: Can't Stand that Day

A short-lived spike in temperatures pushed load in the California Independent System Operator control area above the 41,000 MW range on Monday. Even the day before was a stressful day for the grid, as peak load on Sunday hit 36,818 MW, just about 2,000 MW more than the prior Sunday. With the return of work-week load, Cal-ISO found it necessary to issue a system warning on September 22 at 2:30 pm. Cal-ISO lifted the warning at 8:00 pm.

A system warning is the lowest-grade notification Cal- ISO issues. It is essentially a recommendation for increased conservation and "encouragement" that market participants offer additional supplemental-energy and ancillary-services bids.

During the Monday demand for electricity, figures for hour-ahead transmission capacity told the story of which locations wanted the megawatts and which were attempting to send the power. No capacity was available in the Cal-ISO's hour-ahead market from HE 09 through HE 23 in the north-to-south direction on the California/Oregon Intertie. No hour-ahead capacity was available on the line Tuesday from HE 10 through HE 17.

Power was also constrained in the east-to-west direction on the Palo Verde line on Monday. For HE 07 through HE 24, there was no capacity offered on the line in the Cal-ISO hour-ahead market. By Tuesday, some capacity was offered on the PV line for all hours.

The high demand/tight capacity matrix was not eased by de-rates on lines. Because of the scheduled outage of the 500 KV Hanford-Ostrander No. 1 line, the COI is pushed down to 4,000 MW for much of the week. It was fortunate that the heat let up by Wednesday, as the line was further limited that day. Because of an outage of the 500 KV Malin-Round Mountain No. 1 line, the COI was limited to 2,840 MW in the north-to-south direction that day.

Temperatures throughout California dropped rapidly after the Sunday-Monday heat wave and the demand for electricity followed suit. Peak loads on Wednesday came in at about 32,600 MW.

The Vincent Substation should be back to three 500/220 KV transformer banks by the end of the month, Southern California Edison Director of Engineering, Planning and Project Management John Ballance said this week. Capacity on Path 26 has been curtailed since the March fire that destroyed one bank. Fortunately, Edison had planned to install a fourth 500/220 KV bank at the substation and soon had the equipment on hand to get the transfer station back up to three banks. Not so fortunately, the testing and tweaking of the operation of this third bank has taken much longer than anticipated. The original impetus for adding the fourth bank was to mitigate some reliability-must-run requirements for the area, as well as to help meet expected load growth.

Still, Ballance said that the unit had the "green light" as of Thursday and that as soon as the third bank is operational, the de-rate on the line should be able to be removed. In addition, Edison has ordered another bank so to get the substation up to its planned four 500/220 KV banks by next summer. The equipment, installation and necessary reconfiguration costs for the added bank will run about $20 million, said Ballance. The company also plans to have a fourth bank of this size installed at Mira Loma by summer 2004. The specific cause of the Vincent Substation fire is still under investigation [Shauna O'Donnell].

Prices Continue to Ebb and Flow

The price of natural gas at Western hubs arced upward during the early part of the week, peaked on Wednesday, and spent the following two days in a slow descent back to where they started the week. The demand for natural gas was somewhat driven by the weather and escalated use for the firing of electric- generating units. When the temperatures dipped, the draw of gas for power units also sagged, softening the price as the week wore on.

Gas prices at the San Juan hub sat in the $3.80 to 3.86/MMBtu range early in the week, peaking at $4.35 at midweek before falling to $3.85/MMBtu on Friday. Southern California Border gas managed to stay above the $4.00 mark all week, but closed at a low of between $4.15 and $4.25/MMBtu on Friday.

The Energy Information Administration reported another strong injection into storage on Thursday. For the week ending September 19, 100 Bcf of gas was placed into storage [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of September 22-26, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.89-58.99 10.37-116.08
Mid-Columbia 38-43.10 28.50-32.75
COB 41-46 29.50-33.75
NP 15 45.50-52.50 32.50-36
SP 15 45.50-51.50 32-35
Palo Verde 40.75-45.25 28.50-31

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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