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Western Price Survey / Archives

November 3, 2000
Prices Turn Sideways

The California Power Exchange floated around the 100 mills/KWh mark all week regional trading hubs were unified in their inability to resist gravity, with prices in the Southwest falling into almost "normal" ranges for the season.

As usual, no one had a clear explanation for the zig-zag movement of CalPX daytime prices, which turned up to 107.4 mills Wednesday, dove to 85 mills for Thursday and landed at 103.8 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries. Off-peak power showed the same unsteadiness but in a range between 80.8 mills and 92.75 mills/KWh. Volumes on the PX day-ahead market slipped from 517 GWh on Monday to just 499 GWh Friday, but there was not much action on the day-of market.

Meanwhile, prices everywhere else fell about 20 mills/KWh through the course of the week. Palo Verde and Four Corners reported little traffic except exports to California, where congestion on Southern pathways helped drive prices even lower. By the end of the week Palo Verde was reported at 56 mills to 59 mills/KWh and off-peak tracked the Cal-PX zonal price at 40 mills/KWh, but the price had been as low as 30 mills to 33 mills/KWh previously.

The Northwest generation situation is still uncertain. Bonneville Power Administration made a weak showing in the sales market midweek but had pulled out again, saying it had no surplus power to sell through Monday. Traders report some water releases on the Columbia River not related to Vernita Bar spawning activities. Still, prices at Mid-Columbia turned downward to about 75 mills to 77 mills/KWh for Friday/Saturday packages. California/Oregon Border prices rested at 78 mills to 80 mills but NP15 was slightly higher at 81 mill to 83 mills/KWh. The off-peak price was around 74-78 mills/KWh at all the Northern points.

Few new generation outages were reported, except for San Juan No. 1, which went out on a tube leak midweek. The three nuclear units currently out for refueling are in varied stages of the process. Diablo Canyon No. 1 was reported to have completed its core reload last Monday, but repair on several dozen steam tube leaks appears to be adding a few days to the outage schedule. The unit was planned to return to service November 7, sources now say restart may stretch into the next weekend. There was no word on when SONGS or Palo Verde refueling will be complete.

Transmission work on the DC Intertie was wrapped up for the week Thursday and the line restored to full service after a mid-week outage. More work is set for November 7-8, when the line will be cut to about 1900 MW northbound [Arthur O'Donnell].

Canadian Line Work Causes Gas Price Gyrations

With as much as 240 MMcfd of Canadian natural gas shut in at production fields by work on the Nova and ANG pipeline system, Alberta natural gas prices fell sharply midweek then rebounded as the constraints were lifted Thursday. As a result, gas prices in Northern California markets moved in a wide range.

An expected 200 MMcfd to 300 MMcfd cut to flows on the Transwestern pipeline into Southern California was considered to be less of a problem because of reduced demand from power generation, but traders were anticipating some pricing pressure into the weekend as a result.

National markets also were unstable, falling on word that more gas than expected was pumped into storage last week. A later rally in NYMEX national prices was not sustained, however, and prices fell again.

The ups and downs of the week put SoCal Border prices into a $5.24 to $5.34/MMBtu range. The differential between border and basins was again above $1, as San Juan prices moved from $4.04 to $4.10 and Permian spread from $4.11 to $4.21/MMBtu.

Malin prices were seen in the $5.12 to $5.20 range, while PG&E CityGate fluctuated between $5.22 and $5.46/MMBtu on Thursday.

The Alberta price plunged from $(C)5.90/Gigajoule at the start of the week to about $5.60 but picked up momentum to reach $5.93/Gj on Thursday. The Alberta index price ended up at $5.88/Gj [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of October 30-November 3, 2000
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 77-399 78-92
California PX (WAC) 85-107.4 80.8-93
Mid-Columbia 75-95 74-78
COB 78-86 73-80
Palo Verde 56-75 30-40

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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