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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
October 20, 2006
Up, then Down, Then Back Up Go Fuel Costs; Electricity Prices Follow

The price of power traded on the Western spot markets scooted higher during the first part of the week, tracking an increase in the cost of natural gas. Prices sagged a bit at midweek before taking an unusual turn upward in trading of weekend packages. The movement in spot electricity values tracked the movement in gas values and temperatures.

Peak power in the South of Path 15 region opened on Monday trading for between 50.25 mills and 53.50 mills/KWh. The price jumped up as high as 62.50 mills/KWh the following day before slipping to between 57.85 mills and 60.50 mills/KWh on Wednesday. Weekend deliveries scheduled for peak hours attracted as much as 63 mills/KWh on Thursday, while next-week packages went for between 64 mills and 67.50 mills/KWh on Friday.

Off-peak power at SP15 changed hands for as little as 33 mills/KWh at the start of the week. The value of nighttime power ranged from 39.25 mills to 41.75 mills/KWh over the next few days before hitting 46 mills/KWh on Thursday. By Friday the value of nighttime power had soared to between 50 mills and 55 mills/KWh.

Southern California power prices were also affected by the shutdown of Unit No. 3 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The facility scaled back output at the start of the week in preparation for a refueling outage. By Tuesday the 1,110 MW unit was entirely off line. Unit No. 2 at Palo Verde is currently off line for refueling and maintenance. Also off line on Friday was the No. 3 unit at PV. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission web site, the 1,247 MW unit was removed from service due to a "hotwell draw-off valve spuriously failing open." The facility is expected back on line early next week.

Power values in the North of Path 15 region were pegged at between 50.50 mills and 53.65 mills/KWh at the start of the week. Trades conducted on Tuesday settled for as much as 62.25 mills/KWh before slipping by a mill or two. Next-week deliveries at NP15 changed hands for between 64 mills and 69 mills/KWh on Friday. Power scheduled for nighttime delivery moved for between 33 mills and 34 mills/KWh on Monday. The price quickly swelled on Tuesday to as much as 41.25 mills/KWh, but really took off at the end of the week, reaching a high of 53.20 mills/KWh.

Power traded at the Palo Verde hub also moved upward on Tuesday. Daytime power packages changed hands that day for close to 10 mills/KWh more than Monday's range of 45.25 mills to 47.75 mills/KWh. Peak-power prices remained in the low-to-mid-fifties until Friday, when a high of 60.50 mills/KWh was reached. Nighttime power scheduled for next-day delivery at Palo Verde traded for between 29 mills and 32.50 mills/KWh in the early part of the week. Gains were recorded throughout the Wednesday-to-Friday period, with a high of 49 mills/KWh reached that day.

Peak-time power at the Mid-Columbia trading hub in the Northwest opened the week moving for between 47 mills and 50 mills/KWh. The price rose as high as 66.50 mills/KWh in end-of-week transactions. Low-demand power at Mid-C opened the week trading for between 39.50 mils and 40.75 mills/KWh. The price of off-peak power at the Northwest hub moved up to between 45 mills and 46.25 mills/KWh on Wednesday before gaining another 10 mills or so in Friday's session [Shauna O'Donnell].

Spot Gas Values Take Cue from Futures, Winter Warnings

Natural gas values made fairly significant gains over the course of the week, outpacing the spreads recorded in prior weeks by a healthy amount. The upturn in the cost of spot gas reflected a jump in futures values, which moved above the $7/MMBtu mark on Thursday. The anticipation of a colder-than-normal winter in fuel-hungry regions of the country pushed prices up. The market also seemed to revolt against the recent downturn in gas values for no particular reason.

Spot gas at the Permian basin opened the week trading under the $5 mark, but quickly ran up above $6/MMBtu. A high of $6.39/MMBtu was recorded on Friday. Northern California border gas entering the state at Malin attracted between $6.36 and $6.72/MMBtu on Friday, well above Monday's range of $5.05 to $5.30/MMBtu. Topock deliveries at the border with Arizona attracted a high of $6.54 at the end of the week after opening on Monday trading between $4.86 and $5.28/MMBtu [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: October 16 - 20, 2006
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 51.37-563.72 28.96-166.23
Mid-Columbia 47-66.50 39.50-58.25
COB 51-66 40.25-53.50
NP 15 50.50-69 33-53.20
SP 15 50.25-67.50 33-55
Palo Verde 45.25-60.50 29-49

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

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