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Western Price Survey / Archives

November 14, 2003
Prices Move Up on Weather-Driven Demand

The Veterans' Day holiday shortened the trading period and activity throughout the West this week so far was rather staid compared to the last few weeks, which included conflagrations in Southern California and a would-be saboteur in the Northwest. Heavy rain-fall in the guise of a freak downpour did hit the Los Angeles area on Wednesday night, dropping about five inches of water in parts of the city. The most noteworthy thing about the downpour was the time it took for that much rain to fall--merely two hours.

On Wednesday spot power prices rose throughout California for Thursday delivery. Prices swelled in re-sponse to the expectation of even cooler weather and higher demand in the coming days. NP15 peak power traded for between 41.75 mills and 45 mills/KWh on Wednesday, after averaging around 42 mills/KWh on Monday. Off-peak power at the hub changed hands for as much as 33 mills/KWh. SP15 power kept pace with NP15 when the week's trading began, but by mid-week was threatening to surpass it. On Wednesday, the price for high-demand deliveries at SP15 swelled to as much as 44.50 mills/KWh.

Bucking the normal trend, prices for weekend de-livery did not slip much in Thursday trading. The weather forecast for the West has temperatures drop-ping on Friday and Saturday. The cooler weather kept prices a bit more buoyant that they would be normally. NP15 and SP15 peak-load power for weekend use changed hands for as much as 45 mills/KWh on Thursday.

Power in the Northwest ran somewhat lower over-all, with Mid-Columbia trades falling in the 34 mills to 35.75 mills/KWh range for early-week peak-power exchanges. Off-peak deliveries moved for around 28 mills on Monday before tacking on a couple of mills for Wednesday deals. Neither California-Oregon Bor-der nor Mid-C prices lost any ground in end-of-week activity. Peak power at both hubs was trading within the 35 mills to 39 mills/KWh both Wednesday and Thursday, while off-peak trading stuck to the low- thirties range.

Off-peak power prices surged on Friday as trading was conducted for Monday delivery, though the cost of peak-load power stayed within the range estab-lished earlier in the week. For example, off-peak power was trading at COB for as much as 36.50 mills/KWh at the end of the week. Palo Verde power moved for 33.75 mills/KWh, nearly 10 mills higher than Monday's price. Off-peak power closed out the week at a high of 38.50 mills/KWh at NP15.

Transmission constraints and power-plant outages influenced California power prices as well. The Cali- fornia Independent System Operator reported nearly 10,000 MW worth of power off line on Tuesday, with Wednesday's ISO listing showing about the same quantity of generation unavailable. In previous weeks the amount of power unavailable ran in the 5,000 MW to 7,000 MW range.

Most of the generation that had been taken off line was listed as being on planned-outage status--includ- ing the 549 MW Elk Hills plant, the 335 MW El Se-gundo No. 3, the 320 MW Etiwanda No. 3 and the 235 MW La Paloma No. 4 unit. El Segundo was back on line Tuesday, but the continued refueling outage at Palo Verde No. 2 and scheduled outage at Four Cor-ners No. 5 added approximately 2,000 MW to the out-of-service list.

On Tuesday, Reliant Energy's Ormond No. 2, a 775 MW facility, was derated for an unplanned out-age. It was joined on Wednesday by Reliant's 245 MW Coolwater No. 3. Another facility, the 571 MW Sunrise power plant was taken off line on Thursday.

Still, there was ample energy to go around. De-mand rose slowly throughout the week in Cal-ISO ter-ritory but remained well within seasonal expectations. Cal- ISO's loads ended Monday at 30,476 MW and picked up another 200 MW by Wednesday [Shauna O'Donnell].

Cold Boosts Gas

Down, up, down went the price of natural gas on the spot market this week, driven by changes in the weather. Early-week expectations of relatively mild weather had Permian Basin gas trading for as low as $4.11/MMBtu. Trading did not occur on the Tuesday holiday, but by midweek the commodity was changing hands for as much as $4.59/MMBtu at Permian. Still, by Friday the price had dropped back down to be-tween $4.13 and $4.25/MMBtu.

Prices at other Western hubs tracked a similar curve. PG&E CityGate gas opened the week between $4.60 and $4.65/MMBtu, gained about a dime in mid-week trading, and settled on Friday in the $4.58 to $4.63/MMBtu range.

The Energy Information Administration reported another injection into underground gas storage facili-ties for the week ending November 7. In contrast to last year, when gas was withdrawn from storage, pro-ducers injected 32 Bcf underground last week [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of November 10-14, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 29.85-66.87 10.37-48.01
Mid-Columbia 34.25-35.50 27.50-34.50
COB 36.50-39.25 29.25-36.50
NP 15 39.75-45 30.50-38.50
SP 15 39.25-44.50 26.50-33.75
Palo Verde 35-39.25 24-33.75

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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