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Western Price Survey / Archives

October 17, 2003
Slim Margins Continue for Western Power

Western power prices, which sagged as the week progressed, were pressured downward even further in Thursday trading. The deals conducted on the that day include weak-load deliveries for the coming weekend, and prices responded weakly. Mild weather did not help matters, as the region was expected to maintain temperatures well within the normal range for this time of year.

Aside from the ongoing refueling outage of Palo Verde Unit No. 2, the West's nuclear power plants maintained full output during most of this week. The only hiccup was on Thursday, when Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported Palo Verde No. 1 at 75 percent of capacity. The NRC listed that unit at 80 percent on Friday.

In the California Independent System Operator control area, peak loads averaged under 32,000 MW each day this week, leaving plenty of reserve-margin cushion.

Mirant evacuated the control room at its Apex Generating Station north of Las Vegas because of a bomb threat on October 15. David Payne, a spokesperson for Mirant, confirmed that Mirant received a bomb threat by telephone and followed its procedures, but declined to say what facility was identified in the threat. Nevada Power and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council reported that Mirant evacuated the control room of nonessential personnel between 2 pm and 2:28 pm October 15. The threat proved to be unfounded.

Transmission curtailments in the West this week included the Pacific DC Intertie, which was out of service entirely for inspection and maintenance. It is estimated to be repowered by October 22. Path 15 was limited in the early part of the week because of line clearance on the Los Baņos-Gates 500 KV line. Path 15 capacity was dropped to 2,550 MW in the south-to-north direction and 1,050 MW north to south

Peak power in the Northwest opened the week in the low forties. On Monday, peak-load trades at Mid-Columbia kept to the 41.25 mills to 43.25 mills/KWh. The following day, Mid-C peak power struggled to stay above the 40 mills mark and by Thursday had entirely given up-registering at between 34.50 mills and 38.75 mills/KWh in trades conducted that day. Off-peak power at Mid-C stuck fairly close to the 35 mills/KWh mark most of the week before sinking to the 29 mills vicinity on Thursday..

At other Western hubs prices showed a bit more strength, with California/Oregon Border peak power changing hands for as much as 46.50 mills/KWh on Tuesday before sagging into the 38.50 mills to 43.25 mills/KWh range on Thursday.

Power for high-demand times moved at SP15 for as much at 54.25 mills on Monday before slipping a mill or two for the rest of the week. NP15 power also was trimmed over the course of the week. Opening on Monday for as much as 50.75 mills/KWh, peak power at the hub dipped down to as low as 43.75 mills/KWh in Thursday trading..

Palo Verde power prices remained nearly flat from Monday through Wednesday, only weakening as the weekend approached. Having changed hands for between 50 mills and 52.25 mills/KWh in the early part of the week, peak power traded as low as 46.50 mills/KWh on Thursday. Off-peak power at Palo Verde ended the week in the high twenties [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Drops on High Inventory

High inventory in Western natural gas pipelines pressured prices downward in Friday trading. Throughout the region, the cost for gas took nearly a two-bit hit, with Permian Basis gas trading as low as $4.145/MMBtu at the end of the week. On Thursday, the price at the basin was in the mid to high four-dollar range. Even the typically buoyant CityGate price lost ground on Friday, dipping to the $4.67 to $4.71/MMBtu range, down from a high of $4.79/MMBtu the day before.

Pacific Gas & Electric's California Gas Transmission notified shippers that it was calling a system-wide operational-flow order for Saturday, October 18 because of high inventory. The tolerance band for the OFO was nil and the noncompliance charge was given at $1.00/Dth. Last Saturday was also an OFO day on the CGT system, but leeway of 5 percent was tolerated for that day.

The Energy Information Administration report on underground injections of gas into storage for the week ending October 10 showed the nation's winter supply in much, much better shape than it was at the beginning of the summer. Stored stocks around the country were estimated to be 2.86 Bcf, less than 1 percent lower than the five-year average. In the West, the amount of stored gas, 381 Bcf was 4.7 percent higher than the average [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of October 13-17, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.77-472.35 10.37-44.30
Mid-Columbia 34.50-43.25 28.50-38
COB 38.50-46.50 30.25-39.75
NP 15 43.75-51 30.75-40.50
SP 15 49-54.75 28.50-39
Palo Verde 46.50-52.50 27-38.75

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 Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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