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Western Price Survey

November 18, 2016
Power Prices Stay Flat; Winter Precipitation Outlook Mixed

Natural gas prices rose during the week, but power prices mostly stayed flat.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 26 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $2.33/MMBtu on Nov. 17. Western natural gas, meanwhile, added between 7 and as much as 37 cents in trading. Sumas natural gas gained the most value, ending at $2.12/MMBtu.

Working natural gas in storage was 4,047 Bcf as of Nov. 11, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 30 Bcf compared to the previous week and was aligned with market expectations. Storage levels are now 1.3 percent greater than a year ago and 5.6 percent greater than the five-year average.

Western peak power prices varied, with California-Oregon Border down $2.60 between Nov. 10 and Nov. 18, on average, while Mid-Columbia and South of Path 15 added less than a dollar.

Markets were closed Nov. 11 in observance of the Veterans’ Day holiday.

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Average nighttime power prices also varied, with Palo Verde posting the greatest loss, down $2.40 to $16.60/MWh. COB, however, added $1.10 to hit $18.75/MWh.

Energy GPS notes that transmission capacity on the 500 kV Colorado River-to-Palo Verde line was something of a rollercoaster during the week. The line was at a 558 MW capacity for hours 7 through 18 on Nov. 16, then was re-rated to the 1,147 MW mark, but nonetheless was restricted for the remainder of the day. Transmission congestion during light-load hours caused the SP15 light-load index to jump by more than $6 to surpass $27.64/MWh.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 30,615 MW Nov. 14, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 56,364 MW on Nov. 17.

What’s ahead: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that a weak La Niña pattern could last through the winter. Northern California is expected to have about average precipitation, but Southern California is expected to be drier than normal. While drought improvement is predicted in Northern California, the drought is likely to worsen in Southern California and the Southwest, the agency stated [Linda Dailey Paulson].

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


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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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