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Western Price Survey / Archives

December 24, 1999
Power Markets Bobsled Through Pre-Holiday Week

If there had been any snow in the region, this week's power market might be described as a pre-Christmas downhill sled ride--with prices a little bumpy as they quickly descended. However, unseasonably warm temperatures in California and dry weather in the Northwest argued against application of the image. Nonetheless, the trend was downward.

While some snow was reported over the Rocky Mountains and freezing daytime temperatures spread from southern Montana to New Mexico, a high-pressure ridge kept the West Coast warm and dry.

The result was low power demand and diminishing prices as traders reported very light transaction activity. The week also saw a holiday pattern of packaged deals, with Wednesday's business taking care of the few trades needed for Friday/Saturday deliveries.

The California Power Exchange began the week with a 34.4 mills/KWh daytime average and a 26 mills/KWh clearing price for off-peak energy, but bidders watched prices and loads slide as the week progressed. Thursday's bids came in at just above 24.8 mills daytime and 20.6 mills/KWh overnight, with scheduled loads dropping to 526 GWh.

Scheduled maintenance on the Pacific AC Intertie dropped transfer capacity to between 2,800 MW and 2,900 MW on Monday through Wednesday and led to some congestion on Path 15 in California and the NW1 route into the state, with little effect on commodity prices.

California/Oregon Border prices started the week at 30.25 mills to 31.75 mills, but fell to about 24 mills/KWh for the holiday weekend.

Mid-Columbia prices also followed the trail to 18 mills to 19 mills/KWh. Off-peak power was reported very close to the peak at 18 mills/KWh, but trading was light.

In the Southwest, Palo Verde started out above 31 mills and Four Corners was as high as 33.5 mills Monday. Both hubs dropped to 27 mills in Wednesday trading.

Few resource outages were reported, except for San Juan No. 1. The 350 MW unit returned to service midweek.

Up in Canada, some rain clouds kept temperatures from falling too low. The Power Pool of Alberta hit some early-week turbulence that drove prices as high as 635 mills/KWh and for several hours above 150 mills/KWh. That settled down midweek, however [Arthur O'Donnell].

Gas Traders Wrap Up the Year

Trading was light and natural gas prices reflected the low level of electrical generation throughout the West this week. The pre-holiday price slide was even steeper than that seen in power markets and, by Wednesday traders were hard to find.

While national hub prices found strength in Midwestern cold and snowstorms, the West Coast was positively balmy and dry. Prices at all hubs fell steadily. San Juan Basin and Permian Basin prices moved from the $2.55/MMBtu level Monday down to the $2.27 to $2.30/MMBtu range. Where the Southern California Border had stretched up to as high as $2.68 early in the week, it fell to an average $2.48 in Wednesday trades, with some sales as low as $2.44/MMBtu.

The Alberta hub price traced the path of a downhill skier, sliding from a peak of $3.05/Gigajoule down to $2.75/Gj by Thursday morning [A. O'D.].

Western Electricity Prices
Week of December 20-24, 1999
Hub Peak (heavy) Off-peak (light)
Alberta Pool (C$) 35-635 20-35
California PX (WAC) 24.8-34.4 20.6-26.2
Mid-Columbia 18-27.5 16-20
COB 24-31.75 18-22
Palo Verde 26-31 21-23

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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