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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
October 21, 2011
Western Power Prices Relatively Static

After a fleeting boost from warmer weather, California peak-power prices dropped a few dollars on dwindling demand by week's end, while Northwestern power prices posted small gains in Friday-to-Friday trading.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 32,610 MW Monday evening, the week's high. The grid operator predicts peak demand reaching about 30,625 MW by Monday, Oct. 24.

Here's how Western average peak-power prices fared in the Oct. 14 to Oct. 21 trading period:

  • Mid-C: Gained $2.65 to around $28.50/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up $2.90 to $30.10.
  • SP15: Lost $1.70 to $33.90/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Dropped roughly $2.25 to about $33.45/MWh.
  • NP15: Traded for about $32.35/MWh Oct. 20, off about $6 from the start of the week.

Off-peak power prices remained relatively flat during the trading period, with gains of less than a dollar. Average prices for Western nighttime power ranged between about $24.80 and $27.50/MWh by Friday (see chart).

Western natural gas prices ended the week mixed. Over the trading period, Southern California Border lost 2 cents to $3.41/MMBtu. PG&E CityGate gained 12 cents to $3.70, Malin prices were up 9 cents to $3.40, and Ruby-Malin gas gained 3 cents to roughly $3.36.

Working gas in storage was 3,624 Bcf as of Oct. 14, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net increase of 103 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 46 Bcf less than last year at this time and 113 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,511 Bcf.

"Thus far, the shoulder season between summer electric power demand and winter heating demand has seen a series of very large builds driven by mild weather and high production," the EIA stated Oct. 19 in a natural gas update. "This year, roughly 215 Bcf has been added to storage, a 41 percent increase over the average. Three of the last four weeks have seen triple-digit builds."

What's ahead: Seattle temperatures should fluctuate little between Monday and Thursday, with highs in the mid-50s. Portland should remain in the 60s, but chilly nights and dry conditions late Monday may bring the first frosts to Oregon valleys overnight. Those dry conditions also bring sunny skies to the region Tuesday, perhaps lingering into Wednesday. The probability of rain increases for the Pacific Northwest as the week ends.

Conditions across California the week of Oct. 24 are ripe for fires. Low humidity and windy weather throughout the San Francisco and Los Angeles regions, particularly by midweek, should elevate fire hazards. Highs of 78 °F are predicted Wednesday and Thursday for San Francisco, while Los Angeles may reach the 80s Wednesday, with Santa Ana wind conditions forecast.

In their latest seasonal outlook, meteorologists with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration anticipate below-normal seasonal mean temperatures for the West Coast, with greater precipitation forecast for some sections of the Pacific Northwest. The forecast covers the period spanning November 2011 through January 2012 [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: October 17 - 21, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 14.90-89.93 12.20-27.45
Mid-Columbia 24-29.25 20.75-28.50
COB 26.50-30.75 22.90-29
NP 15* 32.25-38.25 24.50-25.25
SP 15* 32.40-39.50 23-27.50
Palo Verde 31.50-41 21.50-27.75

* 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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