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Western Price Survey

November 26, 2014
Uncertainty Jumbles Prices

Western power prices remained mixed as weather forecasting uncertainty weighed on the gas markets.

Working gas in storage reached 3,432 Bcf as of Nov. 21, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 162 Bcf from the previous week. Storage levels are now 9.2 percent less than a year ago and 10.4 percent less than the five-year average.

Natural gas values fell. Henry Hub natural gas spot values shed 28 cents since Nov. 20 to trade Nov. 25 at $4.13/MMBtu. Western natural gas prices moved even lower, with Opal dropping 42 cents over the same stretch to $4.11.

Despite cold weather this month, traders expect demand to drop as milder weather comes in, according to Enerfax. "Since the weather has been so volatile, and so many traders are adamant about cold weather and high demand . . . it has created an uncertain market despite reliable supply," Enerfax said.

Western peak power prices were mixed in the abbreviated Friday-to-Wednesday trading period. Mid-Columbia added $6.55, ending at $44.95/MWh, while Palo Verde daytime values lost $5.30, ending at $35.15. By Nov. 26, average daytime prices ranged from $38.15 at Palo Verde to $52.05 at South of Path 15.

North of Path 15 trading was confined to a single trade for peak power Nov. 24. The hub posted an average price of $47.15/MWh.

Off-peak prices were also mixed over the trading period. Mid-C gained $3.40 on average to $33.15/MWh, while Palo Verde fell $8.50 to $26.90. Average off-peak prices by Nov. 26 ranged from $26.90 at Palo Verde to $38.50 at SP15.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 29,657 MW on Nov. 24; however, the week's high demand of 30,343 MW was expected Nov. 26, according to the grid operator's forecast.

Renewable-energy production on the Cal-ISO grid reached 8,033 MW on Nov. 22. Solar production peaked at 4,376 MW on Nov. 25.

What's ahead: There is a slight possibility of rain starting Dec. 1 across parts of California. In its 30-day December outlook, the National Weather Service says temperatures for the immediate West Coast may be above normal, while portions of the West may have near- to below-normal temperatures. The December outlook for precipitation in the Pacific Northwest is uncertain based on "multiple conflicting signals." [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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