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Western Price Survey / Archives

November 15, 2002
Loads Take Pre-Winter Nap

Cold weather and high demand remained on the horizon this week as rain and mild climes kept electric loads down. Spot prices followed suit, with most trades avoiding the 40 mills/KWh level. Several nuclear plants around Southern California and the Southwest lumbered back into service, further relaxing prices.

Traders noted the current weather's unhurried transition from fall to winter in assessing price movement. Others tied the relatively low electric premiums to dipping prices in the gas market.

On the California Independent System Operator grid, loads held close to the 30,000 MW range, with about 29,100 MW of load projected for peak hours on Friday.

At Diablo Canyon, Unit 2 returned to 100 percent capacity on Tuesday. The unit had ramped down over the weekend to prevent the plant's cooling intake sys-tem from sucking in kelp as stormy seas swelled off the California coast. At the Palo Verde nuclear complex, Unit 1 was at 70 percent of capacity on Monday and preparing to exit its maintenance outage when an automatic reactor trip late that night shut the plant down. Unit 1 was brought up to19 percent capacity midweek and was operating at 99 percent by Friday.

Meanwhile, SONGS Unit 2, which started the week at 98 percent capacity, returned to full power on Tuesday.

On-peak prices at NP 15 and SP 15 moved nearly in parallel, ranging from 36.5 mills to 42.75 mills/KWh. SP 15 premiums appeared to be unaffected by the restoration of capacity on the Pacific DC Intertie, which had been undergoing repairs in recent weeks. The line stepped up capacity on Monday.

Light-load prices at both points occupied the upper 20 mills to low 30 mills/KWh range, with NP 15 seen between 28.5 mills and 32.5 mills/KWh on Friday and SP 15 prices between 27 mills and 31 mills/KWh.

Palo Verde on-peak prices clipped between 34 mills and 38 mills/KWh on Tuesday before relaxing to 29.75 mills to 32 mills/KWh. Off-peak prices held between 23.75 mills and 25.75 mills, then collapsed as low as 18.50/KWh on Thursday as Palo Verde No. 1 asserted itself on the Southwestern grid.

At Mid-Columbia, supplies for heavy-load hours traded between 30 mills and 31 mills early in the week before notching up to 32.75 mills/KWh on Wednesday. By Friday, on-peak power traded between 29 mills and 30 mills/KWh. Off-peak prices held steady throughout the week, ranging between 25.45 mills and 28.5 mills/KWh.

California/Oregon border energy fetched prices in the 33 mills to 36.25 mills/KWh range for on-peak hours, with off-peak energy yielding 28 mills to 30 mills/KWh.

The Bonneville Power Administration offered 400 MW of on-peak power and 150 MW of off-peak sup-plies this week. For Friday and Saturday, BPA eased its off-peak offer to 100 MW, possibly indicating a reduction in flows on the Columbia river system.

On Alberta's real-time market, prices spiked to 198.64 mills/KWh but mostly kept to the 50 mills to upper 50 mills/KWh range during on-peak hours. Loads ranged from a low of about 6,440 MW to about 8,170 MW [Jason Mihos].

Weather Keeps Gas Quiet

Despite a slight late-week increase helped by stronger NYMEX futures, spot gas prices this week mostly laid low, skulking beneath the $4/MMBtu threshold. Precipitation and relatively warm weather are driving Western trades, and the short-term forecast doesn't portend any extreme departures for prices or demand.

"The farther we go without any weather, the more nervous traders will get," said one gas market insider. "It looks like prices will come down even more."

At the San Juan Basin, prices roamed between $3.05 and $3.45/MMBtu early in the week and sank as low as $2.80 to $2.90/MMBtu for some trades Friday. Permian supplies started the week between $3.54 and $3.60 and ended in the same range on Friday, having slipped to $3.47/MMBtu for some trades on Thursday.

Malin prices hung around the $3.50 to $3.60/MMBtu range before hiccuping to $3.70/MMBtu for some trades on Thursday. Traders attributed the rise to a gain in NYMEX futures for December. Prices at Malin dropped to the $3.49 to $3.59/MMBtu range on Friday.

CityGate gas traded between $3.85 and $3.91/MMBtu until Wednesday, when the range sagged to $3.75 to $3.83/MMBtu. By Friday, prices were moving between $3.65 and $3.75/MMBtu. At Topock, prices ended the week between $3.57 and $3.70/MMBtu, easing from the $3.66 to $3.77/MMBtu range seen between Monday and Wednesday.

The AECO hub in Canada stayed locked between $3.38 and $3.41/MMBtu all week, finishing at about $3.45/MMBtu [J. M.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of November 11-15, 2002
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 12.49-198.64 10.11-31.39
Mid-Columbia 26.5-32.75 25.45-28.5
COB 31.25-36.25 28-30
NP 15 36.5-42.75 28.75-32.75
SP 15 36.5-42.75 24-31
Palo Verde 27-38 18.5-25.75

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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