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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
December 2, 2011
Santa Ana Winds Cause Blackouts

Los Angeles County officials declared a state of emergency Dec. 1, following a pummeling by Santa Ana winds that started Wednesday evening and knocked out power throughout the region.

The National Weather Service reported gusts reaching 97 mph at Whitaker Peak, northwest of Santa Clarita, while the San Gabriel Valley, including the cities of Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Monrovia, had the heaviest damage.

By Friday, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power had restored power to an estimated 145,000 customers while another 67,000 were still in the dark.

Southern California Edison reported that, at its peak, the storm left 226,053 customers without service Thursday afternoon. About 141,000 customers were awaiting service resumption Friday morning, but no subsequent updates were provided. A Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman said about 2,000 of its Buellton and Solvang customers were without power for roughly 45 minutes mid-day Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, Western natural gas prices rose. In the Nov. 23 to Dec. 2 trading period, Western gas prices were up between 24 and 46 cents. Southern California Border gas finished Friday at $3.84/MMBtu while Henry Hub gas closed at $3.34.

Working gas in storage was 3,851 Bcf as of Friday, Nov. 25, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a net decrease of 1 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 41 Bcf more than last year at this time and 261 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,590 Bcf.

In the Nov. 23 to Dec. 2 trading period, here's how average peak-power prices fared:

  • Mid-C: Gained $3.90 to about $33.05/MWh.
  • California-Oregon Border: Up about $4.80 to $34.80/MWh.
  • NP15: Last traded Wednesday at $35.31/MWh, up $4.45 compared to Nov. 23.
  • SP15: Up $3.15 to roughly $34.30/MWh.
  • Palo Verde: Jumped $6.25 to about $35.05/MWh.

Nighttime average prices at Western hubs rose by as much as $6.10/MWh during the holiday-extended trading period. Average off-peak prices by Friday ranged from about $27.15 to around $29.70/MWh (see chart).

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid, which had fallen to less than 28,000 MW over the Thanksgiving weekend, reached the week's high of 31,394 MW Wednesday. The next uptick in use is expected Wednesday, Dec. 7, when demand should be about 32,100 MW, according to the grid operator.

What's ahead: Santa Ana conditions should redevelop in the greater Los Angeles area sometime between now and Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures in the region remain around seasonal norms until later in the week, when cooler weather is expected. The San Francisco area remains in the high 50s with dry weather throughout the week. Seattle and Portland highs stay in the mid-40s Monday through Thursday [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: November 28 - December 2, 2011
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 18.96-55.17 13.15-35.67
Mid-Columbia 29.25-34.25 24.50-30.75
COB 31.25-36 25.50-30.25
NP 15* 34.75-36.50 n/a-n/a
SP 15* 32.25-35.75 22.55-28.50
Palo Verde 29.75-35.50 21-28.50

* Prices represent both day-ahead locational marginal prices (financial swaps, or EZ Gen DA LMPs) and quasi-swap prices (EZ Gen) as reported by ICE.

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 Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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