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Western Price Survey

October 5, 2018
Power Demand Tame Across Region

Power usage stayed relatively flat heading into October, but power prices jumped around a bit. California Independent System Operator demand peaked at 34,747 MW Oct. 1, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand peaked at 53,977 MW the following day.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 13,523 MW Sept. 28, supplying roughly 40 percent of demand. On Oct. 1, thermal generation reached 15,615 MW, fulfilling roughly 45 percent of demand.

Western peak power prices varied in Sept. 27 through Oct. 4 trading. California hubs saw a 30-percent bump between Sept. 28 and Oct. 1 with another spike the following day. North of Path 15 peak power was a top gainer, adding $5.30 to reach $45.05/MWh. South of Path 15 daytime prices fell $3.50 to $38.60/MWh.

Nighttime power values moved nominally in trading. NP15 added $2.55 to reach $33.70/MWh, while California-Oregon Border nighttime power prices eroded $2 to $28.50/MWh. Nighttime values at the close of Oct. 4 trading ranged from $22.50/MWh at Palo Verde to $33.70/MWh at NP15.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices climbed 24 cents to $3.31/MMBtu in Thursday-to-Thursday trading. This is the third consecutive week the benchmark hub has posted price gains, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency tracks Wednesday-to-Wednesday price movements.

Nationally, the amount of natural gas used for power generation dropped 6 percent week over week, resulting in a 1 percent dip in total natural gas consumption.

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Western natural gas prices generally moved higher in Sept. 27 to Oct. 4 trading, with hubs gaining between 16 and 73 cents. Malin natural gas increased the most, up 73 cents to $2.78/MMBtu.

The exceptions were the El Paso hubs, which fell a few cents, and SoCal CityGate natural gas, which dropped 36 cents to $3.29/MMBtu. Southern California Gas Co. still has a total of 80.6 Bcf of natural gas in storage as of Oct. 4, according to data on ENVOY, the utility’s electronic information bulletin board.

In September, average natural gas prices were lower compared with 2017 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price last month at Henry Hub was $3.13/MMBtu, 1 cent less than last year. Western gas hubs lost between 10 cents and as much as 35 cents year over year. SoCal Border values lost the most, dropping 35 cents to $2.82/MMBtu.

Average peak prices at the Palo Verde hub traded at $39/MWh in September, down $63.65 compared with a heat-triggered $102.65/MWh average price in September 2017.
–Linda Dailey Paulson.

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from 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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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