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Western Price Survey / Archives

December 05, 2003
Healthy System, Normal Weather Keep Spot Power Prices in Line

It was another fairly uneventful week in the West for power prices and supply. The ample availability of electricity, seasonal weather and healthy capacity fig-ures kept the cost of electricity from swinging signifi-cantly upward or downward during the week's trading.

Both the cost for peak-load and off-peak power re- mained within a range seen over the last month or so. In the Northwest, Mid-Columbia power kept to the high thirties, generally moving for 37 mills to 39 mills/KWh for high-demand deliveries and hovering between 30 mills and 31 mills for off-peak supplies. California-Oregon Border power prices followed suit, moving for just a few mills more in daily trading.

By Friday, Mid-C prices lost a bit of strength, dip- ping to between 35.40 mills and 37 mills/KWh for peak deliveries. COB power stayed just under 40 mills in end-of-week trading and off-peak power at the hub even gained a mill or two, moving for between 32.75 mills and 33.50 mills/KWh off peak.

Golden-state power stuck to a familiar range over the course of the week as well. SP15 trades rode out the post-holiday week in the range of 45 mills to 49 mills/KWh for high-demand times. Off-peak power at the hub opened the week at between 29 mills and 32 mills/KWh before gaining a sliver of strength to-ward the end of the week. Power for weekend delivery changed hands for between 31.25 and 33 mills/KWh.

NP15 also managed to stick to the upper forties throughout the week. By the end of the week, how-ever, the Northern California price for peak deliveries sagged just a smidge, coming in at between 44 mills and 45 mills/KWh for next-Monday deliveries.

The health of power plants in California kept spot prices from escalating this week. Though the Califor- nia Independent System Operator recorded up to 9,000 MW off line at times during the week, the lion's share was on planned-outage status.

Mirant's 337 MW Contra Costa No. 6, which has been down for a number of weeks, continued to be un- available, as did Reliant's two 320 MW Etiwanda Nos. 3 and 4 units. High Desert's full capacity of 787 MW was also off line throughout the week, as was Duke Energy's 754 MW Moss Landing No. 6 unit.

Few major units were off line because of unplanned events. La Paloma No. 4 held back its entire 235 MW, as did the 170 MW Baja, Mexico facility Ciclo Combinado Mexicali. Duke's 336 MW Morro Bay No. 4 unit was also feeling poorly and not available throughout the week.

Scheduled line work in the Pacific Northwest kept Pacific DC Intertie transfer capability curtailed throughout the week. North-to-south flows were cut back to 1,086 MW and south-to-north capacity was 1,070 MW. The Western Electricity Coordinating Council daily transmission system condition report also listed the California-Oregon Intertie (Path 66) as limited to 4,800 MW in the north-to-south direction and 3,675 MW in the opposite direction because of Northern California hydro and Midpoint-Summer Lake 500 KV line flows [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Ticks Upward as East Coast Chills

Sympathetic response seemed to be the primary driver in Western natural gas markets throughout the week. Cold weather and winter storms on the East Coast pushed up the daily spot price of gas throughout the country, including the Western region. Despite few significant weather- or supply-related events in the West, the price ticked upward throughout the week.

Malin spot gas opened the week at between $4.46 and $4.55/MMBtu before floating upward to about $4.82/MMBtu in Friday trading. Southern California Border gas closed out the week above $5.00/MMBtu after an early-week price of about $4.65/MMBtu.

That demand was not the reason for the price swells was demonstrated by the two operational-flow orders called by Pacific Gas & Electric's California Gas Transmission system this week. On Wednesday, a system- wide OFO was called due to high inventory in the pipelines. The tolerance band on the system for that day was zero. The next day brought another system-wide OFO, though this time with a leeway of 1 percent.

The Energy Information Agency listed withdrawals from storage throughout the country for the week ending November 28. The West saw a decline in un-derground gas storage of 9 Bcf. Still, the current Western supply of 383 Bcf continues to be above the five-year average by 4 percent [S O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of December 1-5, 2003
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 19.42-310.81 19.21-37.82
Mid-Columbia 35.40-40.75 29.75-33
COB 38.50-44.50 30.75-33.50
NP 15 44-49.25 32.25-34.50
SP 15 42.50-49 29-33
Palo Verde 39.60-45.25 26-31

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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