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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
October 8, 2010
Western Energy Prices Self-Correcting

Western electricity prices appear to be in correction mode, moderating as the weather cools.

Similarly, natural gas prices have moved lower, the result of milder weather that reduced the need for cooling coupled with flat production and less demand.

In the Friday-to-Friday trading period spanning Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, average prices for daytime power varied, with prices ranging from a loss of about $1.50 to a gain of about $1.45/MWh.

For average peak-power values, South of Path 15 advanced about $1.45 to close at $40.47/MWh, while North of Path 15 earned $1, closing Friday at $40/MWh. SP15 recorded the week's high for spot prices among Western hubs at $41.25/MWh.

Mid-Columbia posted an average price of $28.03/MWh for daytime power Friday, losing $1.47 during the trading period.

Over the six trading days ending Oct. 8, Palo Verde peak power lost about $1.30, trading for an average of $34.87/MWh Friday.

Meanwhile, California-Oregon Border daytime power traded for an average of $32.46/MWh Friday, 80 cents lower than the Oct. 1 average price.

Off-peak power prices were mixed by week's end. Average prices for nighttime power at the California border and Palo Verde were down between about 35 cents and $1.45/MWh, respectively. Mid-C and SP15 average prices were up 32 cents and $1.43/MWh Friday compared to the prior week. (see chart below)

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Unit No. 3, which has been down for routine refueling and maintenance since Oct. 2, continues to be off line.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 29,400 MW Monday at 8 p.m., the week's high. The next surge in demand is not expected until Oct. 12, when the grid operator anticipates use to exceed 33,000 MW.

An 85 Bcf addition to natural gas reserves provided a total of 3.499 Tcf in storage as of Oct. 1, according to the EIA. Storage is now 220 Bcf greater than the five-year average, according to the agency.

Henry Hub spot prices traded at $3.56/MMBtu on Wednesday, Oct. 6, down 25 cents from the previous Wednesday. By Friday, the average price was $3.36/MMBtu. November futures traded for $3.87/MMBtu Wednesday, down 10 cents from the previous Wednesday's price.

What's ahead: The National Weather Service is predicting rain will fill rivers throughout Washington over the weekend, with at least one tributary expected to reach the flood stage. After a wet Columbus Day weekend, Seattle expects a dry start to the week, with a chance of additional precipitation as the week continues. Portland should be cooler starting late Sunday, with a slight warming trend forecast for Wednesday. There may be rain Wednesday or Thursday.

Conditions in Northern California are expected to vary, with alternating cooler and warmer weather forecast in the Bay Area through Thursday. Central and Southern California are predicted to have some cooling early in the week. These cooler conditions may prevail through Thursday in the greater Los Angeles area [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: October 4 - 8, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 19.27-98.96 13.18-28.17
Mid-Columbia 22.50-30.50 25.25-29
COB 27.25-33.75 26.75-31.25
NP 15* 33.50-40 27.25-28.50
SP 15* 33.50-41.25 25.50-32.25
Palo Verde 32.40-36.25 19-29

* 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 with questions or comments about this site.

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

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