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Western Price Survey

Week's End Edition
December 17, 2010
Western Energy Prices Lose Value

Daytime power prices for Western hubs dropped across the board since last Friday, with Northwestern hubs experiencing nominal losses during the Friday-to-Friday period from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17.

Mid-Columbia daytime power lost a quarter over the period, trading for an average of $33.14/MWh on Friday, Dec. 17. Daytime power at the California-Oregon Border traded down by about $1.30, with an average price of $34.32/MWh.

Meanwhile, North of Path 15 and South of Path 15 daytime power each lost about $2.80 during the period, with NP15 finishing at around $36.40/MWh and SP15 at $36.15/MWh. Palo Verde lost $2.70 and traded for an average of $33.02/MWh on Friday.

Average values for nighttime power ranged between about $29.70 and $31/MWh. Most hubs lost a few dollars compared with last Friday, with the exception of Mid-C, which gained almost 45 cents/MWh (see chart below).

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a 164 Bcf draw from natural gas reserves, which provided a total of 3.561 Tcf in storage as of Friday, Dec. 10. For this same period last year, 186 Bcf was drawn from gas stores. The agency attributes the difference to increased natural gas production. The five-year average draw for the week is 153 Bcf. Working gas storage in the West is now 18 Bcf less than last year.

Natural gas spot prices in the West fell slightly over the week. For the Friday-to-Friday trading period from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17, the average price for Southern California Border gas lost about 28 cents to reach $3.95/MMBtu. Meanwhile, PG&E CityGate gas dropped 35 cents to $4.11/MMBtu, and Malin gas slipped 25 cents to end at $3.98.

Henry Hub spot prices traded at $4.19/MMBtu Dec. 16; by Friday, the average price dropped to $3.99/MMBtu. Futures traded for $4.05/MMBtu Friday, according to Bloomberg.

Peak demand on the Cal-ISO grid reached 32,632 MW Dec. 13 at 6 p.m., the week's high. The system operator expects the next demand surge to occur Dec. 20, when use may exceed 32,700 MW.

At peak production, California renewables provided 10.8 percent of system power on the Cal-ISO grid over a 24-hour period Wednesday, Dec. 15. Of the 69,546 MWh of renewable power generated, 23,811 MWh came from geothermal sources, 22,059 MWh was supplied by wind generation, small hydro sources added 9,166 MWh, and an additional 8,884 MWh was contributed by biomass.

What's ahead: Storms enter the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, Dec. 18 and are expected to create inclement weather throughout the West until at least midweek. Showers should remain in Seattle through midweek, while Portland will be wet with temperatures in the low 40s through Thursday. The San Francisco area should see rain and gusty wind, with the heaviest precipitation expected Tuesday, Dec. 21. Temperatures in the high 50s are expected for the area during the week; the stormy weather could cause flooding and downed power lines. Similar warnings are being issued for Southern California, which may experience "a significant and potentially dangerous storm" next week. Double-digit rainfall is possible for the Los Angeles area and below-seasonal temperatures will accompany the rains next week [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Western Electricity Prices
Week's End: December 13 - 17, 2010
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 20.81-974.07 13.15-36.11
Mid-Columbia 32-37.75 29-31.75
COB 34-39 28-32.15
NP 15* 36.25-40 29-33.50
SP 15* 35.75-41 26.25-32.25
Palo Verde 32.50-39.25 23-30

* 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.

Please contact with questions or comments about this site.

Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey Content.

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