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Western Price Survey

November 9, 2018
Heating Season Starts With Less Natural Gas

The amount of natural gas on hand—nationally and regionally—to start the heating season is less than the five-year average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

There was 3,208 Bcf of working natural gas in storage as of Oct. 31. This is 16 percent less than the five-year, end-of-October average.

“This level is the lowest end-of-refill season level for working gas stocks since 2005, and inventory levels in all regions were lower than their five-year minimums,” the agency said in its weekly report.

Net Pacific region additions were 26 percent less than the five-year average.

The natural gas storage injection season traditionally spans from April 1 through Oct. 31; however, additions often occur into November.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices added 28 cents in trading, ending at $3.60/MMBtu.

Western gas values generally moved higher, adding between 17 cents and as much as $4.81 in trading. Sumas values gained the most, up $4.81 in Nov. 1-8 trading.

Meanwhile, Northwest power values jumped more than $20 in Nov. 1-8 trading thanks to a regional cold snap. Mid-Columbia daytime power gained $25.60, ending at $60.85/MWh. North of Path 15 peak power lost the most, down $4.15 to $45.45/MWh. Off-peak prices generally followed suit, with Northwest hubs adding the most value.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 29,863 MW Nov. 2, which should be the week’s high. Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 12,610 MW Nov. 5, supplying roughly 43 percent of demand. Solar generation reached 8,678 MW Nov. 3, fulfilling roughly 31 percent of demand.

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The grid operator continues closely watching wildfires in the state. Two 500-kV lines were forced off line late Nov. 8 and remain out of service due to the Camp Fire in Butte County. CAISO expects the lines to return to service in the early evening hours of Nov. 9. One area 230-kV line and one 115-kV line also remain out of service.

“No ISO load was lost associated with this outage as grid operators reconfigured the fleet to support the line loss and ensure system reliability. We are continuing to assess the conditions in Northern California and [will] commit additional resources if necessary to maintain reliability,” CAISO spokesman Steven Greenlee said in an email. “The Southern California fires are not impacting the bulk electric system.”

What’s ahead: High-risk, warm and dry fire conditions persist throughout California; however, colder-than-normal temperatures are expected for most of the country through Nov. 19, which should increase heating demand and natural gas prices, according to Enerfax. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from 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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Contact Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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