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Western Price Survey

November 23, 2005
Cool Turkey: Power Prices Stable

Power prices took a dive on Tuesday but regained ground in Wednesday trading as a snowstorm raced across the Great Lakes and was poised to blow through New York and Pennsylvania over Thanksgiving.

While the east continues to battle lower than average temperatures, the story in much of the west has been exactly opposite.

Power for Friday deliveries was traded on Wednesday on the Intercontinental Exchange, while Powerex reported Wednesday trades for weekend and Monday deliveries.

South of Path 15 peak power began the week between 76 mills and 80 mills/KWh and dropped to a low of 67.25 mills/KWh in Tuesday trading. By Wednesday, however, the price reached 81.50 mills/KWh. Off-peak power went for 58.50 mills to 68 mills/KWh, with the high set on Monday.

Palo Verde peak power traded for much of the week between 65 mills and 70 mills/KWh, dipping to a low of 63 mills/KWh Tuesday before regaining strength for Friday deliveries. Nighttime power mostly held steady throughout the week between 56 mills and 59 mills/KWh.

Daytime power for North of Path 15 customers traded Monday for as much as 80.25 mills/KWh, fell to a low of 67.50 mills/KWh the next day, then hit 80 mills/KWh again on Wednesday. Off-peak power traded for a high of 68.75 mills/KWh Monday and a low of 59.50 mills/KWh the following day.

Prices for peak and off-peak power at the California-Oregon border as well as in Mid-Colombia followed the trend, with Wednesday gains erasing price drops from Tuesday.

Unit No. 1 of Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant continues on a refueling outage. An unplanned outage of the 1,020 MW Big Creek Hydro project kept between 493 MW and 633 MW off the grid Monday and Tuesday. The 404 MW Helms Pump Unit No. 3 was also on an unplanned outage both days.

A number of transmission line outages affected the California/Oregon Intertie and the Pacific DC Intertie.

As of Wednesday, southward flows on the COI were limited to 4,380 MW and northward flows were limited to 2,450 MW from outages of the Sickler-Schultz No. 1 and Keeler-Allston No. 1 500 KV lines. Southward flows on the PDCI were limited to 2,740 MW [Chris Raphael].

Natural Gas Falls For Holiday Deliveries, But Danger Ahead?

While a snowstorm threatened the Midwest and power prices rose, natural gas prices fell on Wednesday--even in a spite of a report from the Energy Department that working gas in storage declined the previous week.

Natural gas traded Wednesday for deliveries between Thursday and Monday. Permian Basin natural gas began the week trading at around $8/MMBtu, then raced to $9/MMBtu on Tuesday. In Wednesday trading, the price fell to a low of $7.15/MMBtu.

The story was similar for much of the other hubs. Southern California border gas traded between $7.77 and $9/MMBtu Monday before falling to $7.10/MMBtu in Wednesday trading. San Juan Basin gas was the lowest-priced out of all the hubs, and went for $6.98/MMBtu for deliveries starting Thursday.

Despite the temporary price reprieve, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Joseph Kelliher said in a press conference that natural gas prices will continue to remain high and won't return to levels a few years ago. Kelliher said that some 50 percent of gas production remains offline in the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 20 percent of the nation's supply.

On Monday, FERC waived certain requirements in order to expedite the construction of natural gas infrastructure following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The agency increased cost caps for projects that may be constructed under certain blanket certificate and prior notice provisions of the Natural Gas Act.

Weekly natural gas storage figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration were disappointing. For the week ending November 18, the Lower 48 states lost 8 Bcf of natural gas from storage, with 3 Bcf removed from storage in the west. Stocks are 32 Bcf less than they were a year ago at this time, the EIA stated [Chris Raphael].

Western Electricity Prices
November 21 - 23, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 44.46-986.27 24.93-144
Mid-Columbia 62.50-69.25 61-67
COB 65-74.50 64-70
NP 15 67.50-80.25 59.50-68.75
SP 15 67.25-81.50 58.50-68
Palo Verde 63-70 56.50-59.25

Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Western Price Survey will not be updated Friday, November 25th, 2005.

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

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