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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
September 30, 2011
Western Energy Prices Fall

Energy prices continued to sag as cooler weather dampened demand for natural gas and electricity.

Western natural gas values dropped midweek after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a healthy storage situation. Working gas in storage was 3,312 Bcf as of Friday, Sept. 23, according to EIA estimates, a net increase of 111 Bcf from the previous week.

Stocks were 91 Bcf less than last year at this time and 5 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,307 Bcf.

This marks the first time since the week of April 15 that natural gas stocks have surpassed the five-year average, the EIA stated. Enerfax characterized the situation as one of booming natural gas production and weakening demand.

Over the Sept. 23 to Sept. 30 trading period, Southern California Border gas fell 17 cents to $3.76/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate lost 10 cents to $4/MMBtu. Malin and Ruby-Malin gas each lost around 12 cents, ending at roughly $3.61/MMBtu.

Over the same period, Western power prices generally lost a dollar or two, with only Palo Verde posting gains:

  • Mid-C: Lost almost $1.35 to around $29.95/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Dropped about $3.20 to almost $31.75/MWh.
  • NP15: Dropped $2.90/MWh from Monday to around $35.40/MWh; no trades Sept. 23.
  • SP15: Lost about 95 cents to $36/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Up $1.75 to around $36.55/MWh.

Western peak prices at NP15, SP15 and COB trail values traded last year at this time by about $5 to $6/MWh. Mid-C is off by about $2 and Palo Verde finished the week about $1 lower compared with the same period last year.

Off-peak power prices were mixed during the trading period, although they didn't move significantly from Monday to Friday. Average prices for Western nighttime power ranged between about $27.60/MWh and roughly $29.70/MWh Friday (see chart).

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 36,654 MW Wednesday evening, which was the week's high. In the week ahead, however, demand is expected to remain below 31,900 MW, according to the grid operator.

What's ahead: A series of quick-moving storm systems is expected to influence weather along the West Coast throughout the first week of October. Seattle has a chance of rain and temperatures into the 60s through Thursday. The first snow showers of the season may occur at higher elevations late Wednesday. Portland should be wet through the week, with temperatures remaining in the 60s through Thursday. The San Francisco area should be cloudy and cool with below-normal temperatures through the week -- 60s along the coast; 70s inland. Conditions should shift to near normal by week's end.

The Los Angeles area sees these same systems by midweek with cooler temperatures, windy conditions, and a possibility of rain forecast. By Oct. 7, dry, warmer weather is expected in the region [Linda Dailey Paulson].


Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: September 26 - 30, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 15.52-692.83 15.10-53.33
Mid-Columbia 28.55-33 26-29.75
COB 30.50-37 28-31.25
NP 15* 35.25-41.85 27.50-27.75
SP 15* 35.35-42 25.25-29.25
Palo Verde 35-39 22.25-29

* 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 webmaster@newsdata.com with questions or comments about this site.

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

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