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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
November 4, 2011
Northwest Power Prices Jump

Bolstered by the onset of colder weather, Northwest peak-power prices gained between $7 and slightly more than $8/MWh in Friday-to-Friday trading.

The increases correlated with Western natural gas prices, which ended the week slightly higher.

From Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, both PG&E CityGate and Ruby-Malin gas gained 16 cents, finishing at $4.01/MMBtu and $3.65/MMBtu, respectively. Malin gas prices were up 14 cents, finishing at $3.66/MMBtu, and Southern California Border gained 11 cents to $3.69. For comparison, Henry Hub finished at $3.44/MMBtu, down 19 cents.

Working gas in storage was 3,794 Bcf as of Oct. 28, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a net increase of 78 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 17 Bcf less than last year at this time and 201 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,593 Bcf.

"This week's injection is more than twice as large as the five-year average injection of 35 Bcf," the EIA stated in its Nov. 2 weekly natural gas update.

Additions to storage typically end by the last days of October; however, the agency says there may periodically be small injections into November, as was the case in 2010. The additions came despite increased domestic consumption of natural gas. Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, natural gas use by the residential/commercial sector alone was up by more than 30 percent, according to the EIA.

Here's how average peak prices fared over the Oct. 28 to Nov. 4 trading period:

  • Mid-C: Up about $7 to $36.10/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Jumped $8.20 to roughly $39.20/MWh.
  • NP15: Up about $4 to $39/MWh.
  • SP15: Gained about $2.35 to $37.25/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Rose $2.15 to almost $36/MWh.

Nighttime average prices at Northwestern hubs rose by as much as $7/MWh, with California hubs down roughly a dollar during the trading period. Average off-peak prices by Friday ranged from $26.80 to around $34.30/MWh (see chart).

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid hit 30,082 MW Tuesday evening, which was the week's high. The next peak is expected Nov. 9, when use should reach 30,068 MW, according to the grid operator.

What's ahead: A series of cold frontal systems originating in the Gulf of Alaska is expected to keep Western weather generally unsettled. Seattle should have temperatures in the 50s starting Monday, lasting into Thursday, but a succession of storms may keep rain in the forecast over that same period. Portland and San Francisco meteorologists are less certain about how these fronts will influence weather. Portland should remain in the 50s throughout the week. San Francisco will be in the 60s and mostly sunny conditions are forecast. Temperatures in the Los Angeles area should stay predominantly in the 70s through midweek [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: October 31 - November 4, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 15.36-965.87 12.81-37.57
Mid-Columbia 30.50-40.40 25.75-34
COB 32.50-42.25 27-36
NP 15* 37-41.70 26.25-30.50
SP 15* 35.10-39.75 24.25-28.50
Palo Verde 34.25-38.25 23.50-27.55

* 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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