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Western Price Survey

December 7, 2018
Western Power Prices Flirt With $100 Mark

The majority of Western daytime power prices briefly exceeded or neared the $100/MWh mark in Nov. 29 to Dec. 6 trading as inconsistent natural gas supplies and colder weather pressed most prices upward.

North and South of Path 15 daytime prices reached roughly $112/MWh Dec. 3, while California-Oregon Border ended at $100/MWh Dec. 4.

By Dec. 6, Palo Verde peak power had gained 34 percent, adding $14 to end at $55.75/MWh. SP15 peak power values jumped 24 percent, or $15.25, to trade at $79.75/MWh. Peak prices on Dec. 6 ranged from $55.75/MWh at Palo Verde to $80.45/MWh at NP15.

Off-peak power prices also increased in the trading period, but not as markedly.

The 1,200-MW Columbia Generating Station continues operating at 66 percent of capacity after being powered down the evening of Dec. 6 for maintenance of pumps associated with its nuclear reactors. It will likely be returned to service within a week or sooner, Energy Northwest spokesman Mike Paoli said.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 30,124 MW Dec. 5, which should be the week’s high. That same day imports reached 9,591 MW, fulfilling roughly 32 percent of demand.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 12,201 MW Dec. 1, supplying roughly 45 percent of demand.

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Regional natural gas price volatility continued, with six Western hubs’ values exceeding $6/MMBtu by Dec. 6. SoCal CityGate gas prices jumped $4 to $11.01/MMBtu thanks to supply constraints and cold weather.

Sumas natural gas values dropped $8.18 to $9.74/MMBtu as more natural gas supplies began flowing through the hub. The current capacity is roughly 1.4 Bcf/day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; it was 1.7 Bcf/day prior to the early-October rupture that disrupted Enbridge’s T-South system.

Henry Hub natural gas spot prices lost 9 cents in trading, ending at $4.41/MMBtu.

In November, average natural gas prices were higher compared with 2017 (see “Price Trends,” next page). The average high price last month at Henry Hub was $4.72/MMBtu, $1.54 more than last year. PG&E CityGate added the most year over year, up $3.44 with an average high price of $6.74/MMBtu.

Likewise, average Western peak power prices were higher by between $11 and as much as $28.30 compared with 2017. Mid-Columbia gained the most year over year, up $28.30 to $70.50/MWh. –Linda Dailey Paulson

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

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from 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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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