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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
November 2, 2007
Prices Retreat as Wildfires Recede

Wholesale power prices took a slide this week as the wildfires in Southern California were put out or at least isolated. Last week, power prices soared as the fires scorched more than 600,000 acres, forced half a million people out of their homes and shut down transmission lines. The blazes ranged from San Diego to north of Santa Barbara.

Prices drifted down in the later part of the week as traders prepared for the weekend and its typically lighter loads. Peak-power prices had more ground to lose this week, dropping around $20/MWh in Southern California. Off-peak prices also took a plunge, but not as much.

Daytime values at South of Path 15 kicked off the week at a high of $83/MWh, but fell to $64 by week's end. Off-peak prices for the area varied from $50 to $60/MWh, with the highest value set for a Sunday 1x16 block.

In North of Path 15 territory, peak prices fell from a high of $80 on Tuesday to a low of $51.75 by the end of the week. Off-peak prices bounced within $10, between about $51 and $59/MWh.

At Palo Verde, average prices slipped from around $62/MWh on Monday to $50 in Friday trading. Prices held nearly constant for off-peak power, at about $44, save for the Sunday 1x16 block priced at $54.

Heavy-power values at the California-Oregon border gave back around $9 to end the week at an average of $67/MWh. For nighttime power, values retreated to prices seen earlier in the week of $57.

Daytime power for the Mid-Columbia hub started off around $68, then roared up to an average of $72/MWh on Wednesday before falling back to around $65. Off-peak power stayed mostly within the range of $55 to $60/MWh.

Weather in the West is expected to be cooler next week, with temperatures in Los Angeles expected to drop down into the lower 70s. In Phoenix and Palm Springs, temperatures should drop to the low 80s by the end of the week. Rain and temperatures in the high 40s are forecast for Portland and Seattle by Friday.

After completing scheduled maintenance, one of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's two units came back on line last weekend. The station has a generating capacity of 2,254 MW.

At the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, security officials found what they thought was a small explosive device in the back of a contract employee's truck on Friday morning. Although no explosives were found, the plant was placed in a security lockdown, according to a news release. Two units at the country's largest nuclear plant are still shuttered due to maintenance. The plant's 1,340 MW Unit No. 1 was scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, but did not start operating until today, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission listed it at 1 percent. Despite the lockdown, Unit No. 2 is humming at 100 percent. Unit No. 3 has been off line since last Saturday for refueling and is not expected to restart until late December [Kristina Shevory].

Supply Injection Drops Gas Prices

Natural gas stockpiles rose last week, boosted by warm weather and low demand. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. homeowners use natural gas to heat and cool their homes.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recorded a 66 Bcf rise in natural gas supplies to 3.5 Tcf versus last week. The increase beat out analysts' estimates, helped dampen prices and boosted supplies 1.6 percent over last year. In the West, stockpiles inched up 6 Bcf to 459 Bcf, but are still about 2 percent below last year.

Robust supplies weighed on prices and forced them to trade in a tight band between $6/MMBtu and $7/MMBtu this week. At all the Western hubs, prices generally rose through Wednesday and then fell on Thursday when the U.S. Department of Energy reported a jump in supplies. Prices slumped from an average high of $7.16/MMBtu at Malin to a low of $5.49/MMBtu at Permian.

However, natural gas prices are expected to increase as cold weather blankets the Midwest starting Monday and pushes east, according to High oil prices, which topped out at $96.24 a barrel on Thursday, have not pushed natural gas to unreasonable heights, but they are certain to do nothing to keep prices from diving lower [K. S.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: Oct. 29 - Nov. 2, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.72-142.43 6.95-41.22
Mid-Columbia 62.50-75 56.75-62.75
COB 66.75-79.25 56-62
NP 15 64.25-80 49.15-59
SP 15 64-83 49.75-60.25
Palo Verde 50-64 41-54

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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