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Western Price Survey

October 7, 2016
EIA: Except on the West Coast, Residential Power Prices Decline

Most United States residential customers are paying lower retail electricity prices this year compared with the same time last year; however, the trend isn’t holding in the Western states.

Residential customers paid 12.4 cents/kWh on average in the first half of 2016, which was 0.7 percent less than last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which attributes this to lower fuel costs. The weighted average cost of natural gas delivered to electricity generators in 2016, at $2.58/MMBtu, is 28 percent less than in 2015.

Should this trend continue, the agency expects annual average residential electricity prices to decline this year for the first time since 2002.

But residential rates in California, Oregon, and Washington rose by 3 percent compared with last year, the EIA noted in an Oct. 6 report.

“The regulated electric utilities in these states sought permission to increase rates to cover costs of maintaining and upgrading the region’s power transmission grid and its network of natural gas pipelines,” the EIA report stated.

Working natural gas in storage was 3,680 Bcf as of Sept. 30, according to EIA estimates. This is a net increase of 80 Bcf compared to the previous week, and the second-greatest addition to natural gas storage this storage season. Storage levels are now 2.1 percent greater than a year ago and 5.9 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 4 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $2.99/MMBtu on Oct. 6.

Western natural gas prices climbed between 2 and 15 cents in trading. Sumas was the exception, standing pat at $2.61/MMBtu. Alberta natural gas gained the most value in the trading period, adding 15 cents to reach $2.19/MMBtu.

Meanwhile, Western peak power prices jumped between $2.40 and as much as $10.45 between Sept. 29 and Oct. 7. South of Path 15 gained the most value, up $10.45 to $40.70/MWh.

Average nighttime power prices followed suit, adding between 25 cents and as much as $5.60. Palo Verde gained $5.60 to hit $27.50/MWh.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 35,234 MW Sept. 30, but the high for the calendar week was expected to occur Oct. 7, with demand potentially reaching 31,354 MW. Northwest Power Pool use reached 51,069 MW on Oct. 3 [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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


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