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Western Price Survey / Archives

Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this week's sole report is being issued Wednesday, November 26, instead of Friday, November 28. The regular schedule will resume next week.

November 26, 2003
Market Fills Up on Holiday Packages

Price trends were mixed in electricity trading during the early part of the week. What with the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday, deals were being done for two- to three-day packages of power--typically grouped in sets for weekday or holiday/weekend deliveries. The primary driver of prices in the West remains weather, with both Northern California and the Northwest in the throes of a cold snap.

North of Path 15 power led the way in the northern half of the region, opening the week in the range of 43 mills to 46.50 mills/KWh for peak deliveries of Monday-through-Wednesday packages. Off-peak power prices at the hub stuck to the 37.50 mills to 39.75 mills/KWh range in Monday trading. Packages at NP15 for holiday delivery slipped minimally, as cold weather was expected throughout the long weekend and some rain or snow was forecast for the region.

California-Oregon Border peak power also changed hands in the low-to-mid forties, hardly dropping in price at all for the lower-demand holiday deliveries. Peak power at COB stayed in the 42 mills to 44 mills per KWh range in Monday and Tuesday trading. Off-peak power lost three to five mills in Wednesday trading after moving for between 36.75 mills and 39.75 mills/KWh on Monday at the hub.

Winter storm warnings were in effect in much of Idaho and parts of Montana this week. Snow and strong winds were expected in those states. Higher elevations in the rest of the Northwest and Northern California may also experience cold, blustery conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

Loads in the California Independent System Operator's territory clung to the 31,000 MW mark for the work week, with a drop down to 24,240 MW predicted for Thursday. According to Western Electricity Coordinating Council data, reserve margins in the California/Mexico reliability center ran about 8.8 percent, while the number for the Northwest was close to 11 percent.

Non-operational units listed by Cal-ISO this week included most of the facilities that held planned- outage status last week, including Mirant's Contra Costa No. 6 and Reliant's Etiwanda Nos. 3 and 4. Potrero No. 3 was also on a scheduled outage this week. According to the Cal-ISO Web site, No. 4 joined it off line briefly on Monday, but that unit appeared to be healthy and operating by the end of the day.

Much of the Mexico generation that ties into the California transmission system was out of service this week. InterGen's 310 MW La Rosita facility was on a scheduled outage, as was Sempra's 600 MW Termoelectrica de Mexicali power plant. The 170 MW Ciclo Combinado Mexicali plant was on forced-outage status all week. On Wednesday, Mohave Unit No. 2 joined the plants on scheduled outages. The 790 MW unit was curtailed by 300 MW.

As for the region's nuclear facilities, Columbia Generating Station and Diablo Canyon both were at full-capacity output this week, as were Palo Verde Unit Nos. 1 and 3. PV No. 2 is still on a refueling and maintenance outage. San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's two units were also generating near capacity this week. Unit No. 2 was listed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as being at 100 percent, while No. 3 was at 95 percent. According to SONGS spokesperson Ray Golden, that unit was tapered down in order to accommodate repairs to a heater drain pump. Golden said that barring any other problem, the unit should be back to full output by the end of the long weekend [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Dips for Holiday Delivery

Natural gas prices at Western hubs stayed in the mid- four dollar range for much of the truncated trading week. Fluctuations were driven by expectation of lower demand during the long weekend.

At the Southern California Border hub, the price for gas for week day delivery ranged from $4.35 to $4.70/MMBtu on Monday. Tuesday's packages reflected the upcoming weekend demand and dropped down to between $4.40 and $4.46/MMBtu. The prices were back up on Wednesday for gas to be delivered next Monday--up to between $4.60 and $4.70/MMBtu. CityGate prices followed a similar pattern--topping out on Monday at $4.88/MMBtu, slipping by about a dime for weekend delivery, then closing at $4.885/MMBtu for next-week gas.

The Energy Information Administration released its underground gas storage figures for last week on Wednesday. The amount of gas in underground storage in the West remained unchanged from the week before--392 Bcf. Producing basins managed to inject 4 Bcf into storage, while the East withdrew 5 Bcf [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of November 24-26, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 29.96-156.41 25-47.51
Mid-Columbia 36-41.25 33.25-39.25
COB 42-44 33.25-39.75
NP 15 42.25-46.50 33-39.75
SP 15 41.25-46.45 31.50-37.25
Palo Verde 37-41.50 28-34.75

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


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