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Western Price Survey

December 23, 2005
Mild Weather, Holiday Schedule Press on Western Power Prices

Inclement weather and the ramping down of a couple of California nuclear power plants did little to boost the price of power on the day-ahead market this week. Anticipation of weaker loads and warmer weather during the upcoming holiday long weekend pushed prices downward despite the supply curtailments.

After spending a couple of days at reduced output levels because of high seas, the two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors heading back up to full output Thursday, At the end of the week the NRC's nuclear reactor status report again had them listed as operating at 100 percent. Also on Friday, the Palo Verde No. 1 unit began its return from an extended refueling outage, and the NRC had it pumping out 11 percent of its 1,270 MW of capacity.

Power prices ramped down as the week wore on. North of Path 15 peak-time power traded for between 116 mills and 121 mills/KWh on Monday and for a few mills less on Tuesday. Exchanges of around-the-clock (ATC) power on Wednesday brought the price down to between 86.25 mills and 90 mills/KWh. Wednesday deals were conducted for power deliveries scheduled for December 25-26. Thursday's trading session was conducted for power to be delivered next Tuesday. Peak-time power for delivery December 27 went for between 91.50 mills and 103 mills/KWh.

Off-peak power for delivery at NP15 traded on Monday for as much as 121 mills/KWh before sinking to between 65 mills and 79.40 mills/KWh on Thursday.

Southern California power fared no better this week. Power moved on Monday for as much as 119.25 mills/KWh for delivery south of Path 15. By Wednesday, ATC packages attracted between 84.50 mills and 89 mills/KWh in the SP15 region. Off-peak power trades went for as much as 94 mills/KWh on Monday but shed as much as 20 mills over the rest of the week.

Four units at AES' Redondo Beach facility were off line on planned outages on Tuesday and Wednesday--a total of about 1,400 MW. The curtailments had little effect on prices and the units were back in service Thursday.

Peak-power values at the Palo Verde hub ranged from 97.50 mills to 105.75 mills/KWh on Monday. Power slated for delivery over the December 25-26 period changed hands on Wednesday for between 79.75 mills and 81.50 mills/KWh. By Thursday the price had dropped to a low of 81 mills/KWh. Off-peak power values at the hub ranged from a high of 85.75 mills/KWh on Monday to a low of 52.75 mills/KWh on Thursday.

Northwest power costs remained high this week. Mid-Columbia peak-time power moved for between 111.50 mills and 122 mills/KWh on Monday. As with power scheduled for delivery at other Western hubs, Monday deals covered power to be shipped on Tuesday and Wednesday. ATC power at Mid-C drew between 85 mills and 88 mills/KWh on Wednesday. Deliveries scheduled for next Tuesday attracted between 83.50 mills and 100 mills/KWh in Thursday's trading session [Shauna O'Donnell].

Gas Prices Forced Downward by Rise in Temperatures

Natural gas prices swooned markedly in Friday trading, dropping by as much as $2 from prices recorded the previous day. The losses came as traders worked to tidy up their portfolios before the end of the year.

Anticipation of warm weather in the Midwest and in the East softened prices, as did a less-than-expected withdrawal of gas from underground storage. The Energy Information Administration this week reported withdrawals from storage of 162 Bcf for the week ending December 16.

The Friday price for gas at the producing basins of San Juan and Permian were as low at $8/MMBtu and $8.02/MMBtu, respectively. Thursday sales of gas at the Permian Basin were recorded at between $10.25 and $10.65/MMBtu. The high at Permian this week, $12.23/MMBtu, was reached on Monday.

Gas at the Southern California border point at Topock attracted as much as $12.41/MMBtu on Tuesday, but steadily lost ground in subsequent days. On Friday, Topock gas changed hands for between $8.60 and $9.10/MMBtu.

Malin deliveries topped out at $12.38/MMBtu, also on Tuesday, but did not lose as much ground at the close of the week as did Topock gas. Malin prices stayed above the $9 mark on Friday, trading for between $9.40 and $9.85/MMBtu [S. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
December 19 - 23, 2005
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 11.25-776.90 10.84-149.38
Mid-Columbia 83.50-122 72-99
COB 86-120.25 75-98.25
NP 15 91.50-121 65-96
SP 15 91-119.25 60-94
Palo Verde 81-105.75 52.75-84.50

NOTE: Energy NewsData offices will not be closed the week of December 26 - 30; consequently the Western Price Survey will not be updated on the 28th or 30th.

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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