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Western Price Survey / Archives

November 27, 2002
Short Week Cramps Electric Prices

With many large consumers of electricity likely to close up shop for the week on Thanksgiving Thursday, spot power prices decreased by midweek. Weather remains mild though slightly cooler in the Northwest, and hydro power continued to be in supply.

Trades made Monday and Tuesday to cover deliveries for the balance of the week-a move that can sometimes lock in higher prices as traders hedge against being caught short-appeared to have little effect on the market.

"We've had no sharp increase in load yet," said one trader, remarking on the market's steady rhythm. "It makes it easy to plan for."

By Wednesday, prices began to climb back to early-week levels as the Bonneville Power Administration scaled down its power offering, indicating reduced availability of hydropower.

Bonneville had 300 MW of power available for sale for both on- and off-peak hours for Thursday through Saturday deliveries. On Wednesday, BPA's offer narrowed to only 50 MW for off-peak supplies, with 100 MW of on-peak power still for sale.

On the California Independent System Operator grid, loads remained halfway between 30,000 MW and 31,000 MW and were forecasted to decrease to about 25,000 MW on Thursday.

Prices at the California-Oregon border jumped higher than usual this week, racing out to 38.5 mills/KWh for on-peak supplies on Monday. By Wednesday, that surge ebbed to about 33.75 mills/KWh. Light-load power at COB traded at nearly the same level, ranging from 30 mills to 33.75 mills/KWh.

On-peak power at Mid-Columbia traded for 34 mills to 37.25 mills at the beginning of the week, then pulled back to 30.25 mills to 32.75 mills. On Wednesday, prices bounced back to 34 mills to 35.5 mills/KWh. As at COB, off-peak prices stayed close behind, reported at 29.5 mills to 33 mills/KWh.

On Path 15, prices maintained their customary aloofness, with NP 15 and SP 15 prices for heavy-load hours wafting up to about 42 mills/KWh on Monday. By Tuesday, on-peak power at NP 15 traded between 35 mills and 37 mills/KWh, with SP 15 trades yielding a touch more at 35.25 mills to 38 mills/KWh. Wednesday found both points buzzing around 42 mills/KWh for heavy-load hours.

Off-peak power hung between 26.25 mills and 29 mills at SP 15, with NP 15 off-peak premiums dipping as low as 21 mills and as high as 32.25 mills/KWh.

At Palo Verde, on-peak prices followed the general rise-retreat-repeat trend, spanning 33.75 mills to 37.5 mills/KWh on Monday. After a brief stay at about 31 mills on Tuesday, prices increased to 32.75 mills/KWh on Wednesday. Light-load power prices at Palo Verde were among the lowest in the region, occupying the 20 mills to 26 mills/KWh range.

Palo Verde's nuclear plants remain within an atom or two of full capacity. By Wednesday, units 1 and 2 were operating at 98 percent capacity, with unit 3 at 99 percent. Palo Verde No. 1 began the week at 97 percent of full power.

According to BPA's OASIS Web site, the Pacific Intertie will be curtailed to zero capacity between the hours of 5 am and 8 pm on November 30 and December 1. Repair work is scheduled on the line.

Real-time prices at Alberta continued their assault on the moon, streaking to 631 mills/KWh for one peak hour on Monday. Several heavy-load prices bested 300 mills, and off-peak trades drew prices consistently in the 50 mills to 60 mills/KWh range. Loads were reported as high as 8,200 MW [Jason Mihos].

Gas Prices Still in Limbo

Trees are emptying themselves of leaves. Actual shoes have supplanted flip-flops as everyday footwear. Still, gas prices at many Western hubs continue to wait on colder weather. This week's abbreviated trading session saw premiums moving robot-like in familiar ranges, with some prices decreasing on Wednesday.

"We're still between air-conditioning load and heating load-an area where a temperature change of five to six degrees doesn't make much difference," said one trader. Projected temperatures for the next several days are not expected to shake prices from their reverie.

Supplies at Pacific Gas & Electric's CityGate point traded at $4 and above on Monday, reaching as high as $4.10/MMBtu. The range shrank to $3.92 to $4.05/MMBtu on Tuesday before enlarging to $3.99 to $4.16/MMBtu the day after. Malin gas prices swung from $3.86 to $4.04 to begin the week, then stepped back to the $3.87 to $3.95/MMBtu range.

Prices at the Permian Basin also cleared $4 for some trades, cruising between $3.94 and $4.08/MMBtu on Monday. By Wednesday, Permian gas traded for about $3.66 to $3.90/MMBtu. At San Juan, prices hit $3.80 on Monday before notching back to $3.78 for some Tuesday trades, with $3.57/MMBtu serving as the low end of the range. Prices then descended to a range of $3.39 to $3.45/MMBtu on Wednesday.

In Canada, prices at the AECO hub rose as colder climates took hold, moving from $3.73 to $3.89/MMBtu [J. M.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of November 25-29, 2002
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 51.45-631.70 28.92-66.65
Mid-Columbia 30.25-37.25 29.5-33
COB 32-38.5 30-33.75
NP 15 35-42.5 21-32.25
SP 15 35.25-43 26.25-29
Palo Verde 30.5-37.5 20-26

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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