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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
September 28, 2012
Late Heat Boosts California Prices

A late-season heat wave expected across California and Arizona sent California power prices soaring Friday. South and North of Path 15 made gains of more than $20 between Thursday and Friday alone.

South of Path 15 reached an average price of $72.67/MWh, leaping $34.78 since Sept. 21. The most expensive trade was $76, and represented the highest price at the SP15 hub recorded this year.

NP15 hit a high of $61/MWh on Sept. 28. This is not the highest price this year for NP15, which had a spot price of $73.50/MWh Aug. 14.

Monday and Tuesday are expected to be the warmest days of the first week of October across California and Arizona, with daytime highs in the 90s and up to 100 °F expected in Southern California's coastal plains, while valley-area highs should exceed 100 °F. The National Weather Service says some areas may break records. Downtown Los Angeles may reach 104 °F Monday and Tuesday. In Northern California, Sacramento and Redding should stay at the century mark Monday and Tuesday.

Here's how average peak prices fared at other Western hubs since last Friday:

  • Mid-Columbia: Jumped roughly $6.25 to $30.95/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Rose almost $7.20 to $37.65/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Gained roughly $8 to $37.85/MWh.

Off-peak prices were mixed at the end of the trading period. Nighttime prices in the Pacific Northwest trended higher, while SP15 and Palo Verde lost a few dollars. Average prices on Sept. 28 ranged from $26.80/MWh at Palo Verde to about $26.90/MWh at the California-Oregon Border.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 36,868 MW Monday, which was the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 49,257 MW Thursday.

Working gas in storage reached 3,576 Bcf as of Friday, Sept. 21, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 80 Bcf from the previous week. The agency noted that this is the greatest addition to storage of the 2012 injection season. Storage levels are now 9 percent higher than a year ago and 8.6 percent above the five-year average.

Storage levels are expected to hit a new record at the end of October, when the injection season ends. The agency estimates natural gas stores will reach 3,950 Bcf.

Henry Hub natural gas values steadily increased during the trading period. The hub gained 32 cents, trading Friday at $3.08/MMBtu. Western prices followed suit, led by Southern California Border gas, which jumped 48 cents to $3.45/MMBtu by Friday. PG&E CityGate added 42 cents, ending at $3.70/MMBtu, and Malin natural gas rose 33 cents, trading Friday at $3.03/MMBtu.

What's ahead: Cooler weather should arrive in California and Arizona Wednesday and Thursday after scorching highs early in the week. Sacramento-area temperatures are expected to reach seasonal norms by Oct. 5.

Partly sunny skies and increasingly cooler weather are expected for the week in the Pacific Northwest and coastal Northern California [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: September 24 - 28, 2012
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 10.88-830.25 11.09-88.11
Mid-Columbia 22.50-32 21.75-27.25
COB 29.25-38 24-29.75
NP 15* 33-61 31-31
SP 15* 37.50-76 21.50-37.75
Palo Verde 29.50-42 20.25-28.50

* 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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