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Western Price Survey / Archives

November 21, 2003
Cooler Weather Boosts Northwest Deals

Succinctly put, there was not that much newsworthy activity in Western power markets this week. One trader confirmed, "Nope, there's not much going on."

High winds blew through the Northwest this week, forcing operators at the Columbia Generating Station to keep a close watch on the facility's equipment. The affect of debris and excessive dust in the air can cause difficulty with running the unit and operators warned early in the week that if the strength of the winds did not lessen, they may be forced to taper down the plant's output.

Columbia spokesperson Don McManman told California Energy Markets on Thursday that the winds had died down and the plant was operating at full power. Somewhat ironically, the Nine Canyon wind project, also in Washington, had to curtail production because of the high winds.

"Mid-Columbia prices are a bit stronger than would have been expected," remarked one market participant early in the week. As temperatures dropped throughout the Northwest, prices at the region's hubs remained robust, defiant of the normal trend toward softening for weekend deliveries. Peak power was trading hands at the hub for between 33.50 mills and 35.25 mills/KWh on Monday, reached a high of 38 mills/KWh on Wednesday, and topped out at 40.25 mills/KWh for weekend packages. Off-peak power drew a price of between 28.50 mills and 30.25 mills/KWh at the beginning of the week before closing out the week at between 34 mills and 35.25 mills/KWh.

Mid-C power trailed behind California/Oregon Border power throughout the week. COB peak-power trades nosed out the Northwest hub deals consistently by one or two mills throughout the week.

Power costs in the state remained fairly level throughout the week, with NP15 peak power moving for between 40.25 mills and 41.50 mills/KWh on Monday and Tuesday before hitting 44 mills/KWh Wednesday.

Power packages in the Southwest trailed the Northwest throughout the week. Opening on Monday at between 37 mills and 38 mills/KWh, peak power at Palo Verde remained nearly static during the week, moving up by merely a mill in late-week trading. Off-peak power prices also remained pretty flat, opening the week at between 25 mills and 27 mills/KWh and tacking on just a mill or two later in the week.

Loads within the California Independent System Operator territory were well within the reach of available supply thus far this week. Peak load hovered just below 31,000 MW each day. Generating-unit curtailments were also manageable as most units that were off line or ratcheted down were listed as being on planned outage status by the grid operator. Many of the units on scheduled outages were those that were also down last week--the 549 MW Elk Hills unit and Etiwanda No. 3 and 4, each with a 320 MW rating.

Few transmission outages of any great significance occurred during the first half of the week. Perhaps most noteworthy is the planned outage of the 500 KV Midway-Vincent No. 1 line. The derate required a few other lines to lower available capacity as well. Path 15 was limited to 3,950 MW in the south to north direction and 1,000 MW in the north to south direction for most hours. Path 26 was listed as being able to move 2,800 MW in the south to north direction because of the line outage [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Retreats then Rises

Mild weather throughout the first half of the week developed into chilly weather across the West on Friday as a cold front moved down the coast from Alaska. The lower temperatures brought with them higher natural gas prices at some of the regions hubs, as the expectation of higher demand for heating over the weekend and early next week drove up the cost of the commodity. Still, the price of gas at the Southwest basins remained fairly level.

At Malin, gas traded for between $4.275 and $4.30/MMBtu on Monday, slipped down to $4.15/MMBtu in Wednesday trading, then price swelled to $4.35/MMBtu for end-of-week trades.

The price of Alberta gas remained in the $3.90/MMBtu range for the better portion of the week before rising to $4.11/MMBtu on Friday.

Meanwhile, Southern California Border gas prices stayed level throughout the entire week, moving little from the $4.35 to $4.45/MMBtu spread.

Last week marked the first draw from underground storage for the season reported by the Energy Information Administration. The agency reported a draw of 27 Bcf in the East and 5 Bcf from producing basins. No withdrawals were recorded for the week in the West [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of November 17-21, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 26.98-624.04 10.37-58.10
Mid-Columbia 33.50-40.25 28.50-35.25
COB 36.35-41.50 30.75-35
NP 15 40.25-44.25 30.50-35.75
SP 15 40.50-43.50 28-31.75
Palo Verde 37-39.75 25-29

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


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Contact Shauna O'Donnell, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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