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Western Price Survey

November 21, 2007
Electricity Prices Play Chicken as Turkey Day Arrives

The stuffing fell out of peak-power prices this week. Values dipped in the West on Tuesday, then got back a little gravy Wednesday, but at most hubs the gains did not surpass Monday price levels. Traders are likely expecting less demand during the long holiday weekend, even with millions of televisions devoted Thursday to Thanksgiving football.

Losses ranged from $4/MWh at Palo Verde to a $13 drop at the California-Oregon border. Values crawled back on Wednesday, but only Palo Verde surpassed Monday's mark when it hit an average of $45.41/MWh.

Nighttime values generally followed the same trend as peak power, except at Palo Verde and South of Path 15. At those two hubs, off-peak trades topped Monday levels, averaging $41.94/MWh and $46.30/MWh, respectively.

Prices were generally cheapest in trading on Tuesday, for delivery Thursday through Saturday. Trades placed Wednesday deliver on Monday.

At South of Path 15, daytime trades started the week in the mid-to-high 50s, sank to a low of $49/MWh Tuesday, and bounced to $54 on Wednesday. At North of Path 15, peak trades sank from $65 to $51/MWh, before gaining ground to reach $56/MWh. Off peak prices bobbed around $47.

Daytime power at Palo Verde slid to $41, then came back to Monday's level of $45.

At the California-Oregon border, prices sank from the low 70s on Monday to the high 50s on Tuesday. Wednesday saw a slight recovery to the low 60s. For off-peak power, values slipped from the high 50s to close out the week around $55/MWh.

The Mid-Columbia hub dropped from the high 60s to the high 50s within a day and ended the week in the low 60s. Off-peak prices slipped around $7 to $53/MWh on Tuesday, before adding $2 Wednesday.

As for what's ahead, in Southern California, cold air and high winds returned on Tuesday night and are expected to last through the week. While they brought with them a chance of wildfires, weather forecasters don't expect the winds to be nearly as strong as last month when they scorched thousands of acres. A cold front moving south and east from the Rockies will drive out record warm temperatures in the Southwest, bringing with it cold air and the possibility of snow in the Texas Panhandle as well as the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, according to AccuWeather.com.

Los Angeles will see patchy fog and temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s this week, while Palm Springs will enjoy plenty of sun and temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s. It will be mostly sunny in Phoenix, but a cold front will shoot temperatures from 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday to 68 by Sunday.

Portland and Seattle will enjoy a nice respite from the rain, with sun and high 40s. But it may be short-lived, because a chance of rain appears again on Sunday.

Nuclear power plants were operating at the same status this week as late last week, with San Onofre's 1,100 MW Unit No. 2 at near capacity. Palo Verde's 1,247 MW Unit No. 3 is still down for maintenance and is not expected to return to production until the middle of next month [Kristina Shevory].

Hefty Natural Gas Supplies Again Drive Down Prices

Natural gas supplies rose last week on robust supplies and mild weather. Stockpiles climbed by 4 Bcf to 3.540 Bcf, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly supply report.

Nationwide, there is now 2.6 percent more natural gas in storage than at the same time last year, and nearly 9 percent more than the five-year average.

In the West, stockpiles climbed by 7 Bcf to 478 Bcf, putting them 2 percent above last year. Compared to the five-year average, natural gas in storage is 11.7 percent higher.

Natural gas prices fell across the western United States thanks to comfortable mild temperatures and plenty of supplies. Losses were between 40 and 50 cents/MMBtu at most hubs. Prices ranged from an average low of $4.69/MMBtu at San Juan to a high of $6.99/MMBtu at PG&E CityGate [K. S.].

Note: The Western Price Survey will not be published Friday, November 23, because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Western Electricity Prices
Week of November 19 - 21, 2007
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 34.73-207.12 15.06-131.22
Mid-Columbia 54-71.50 50.75-62.75
COB 55.75-73.25 50-61
NP 15 48-68 44-53
SP 15 46-66.25 38.50-49.50
Palo Verde 41-56.30 33.50-46

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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