After pausing operation for its 24th refueling, Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant began ramping up again in the early morning hours of June 21.

The 1,207-MW facility near Richland, Washington, had been offline since May 10 for its biennial refueling and maintenance.

“The tremendous amount of planning and work that the team completed over the past several weeks will bring significant value to the region through Columbia’s reliable, carbon-free electricity generation,” Grover Hettel, Energy Northwest chief nuclear officer, said in a news release. “This type of work helps keep our electric bills the lowest in the nation.”

The release also mentions the return being “just in time” for high temperatures, but the region got its first taste of hot weather last week when soaring, record daytime highs raised both demand and prices across the West.

By the end of June 13 to June 20 trading, Western peak power prices dropped off from those heat-fueled highs, dropping as much as 75 percent week-over-week.

California-Oregon Border daytime power fell $50.75 to $18/MWh. Mid-Columbia dropped $49.55 or 75 percent to $16.35/MWh. By the end of trading, prices ranged from $16.35/MWh at the California-Oregon Border to $20.35/MWh at North of Path 15. 

Western nighttime prices followed suit, dropping as much as 50 percent of their value. Mid-Columbia plummeted the most, down $14.15 to end at $14.35/MWh.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 33,564 MW June 19, which should be the week’s high.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 17,298 MW June 14, supplying almost 58 percent of demand. A record 5,281 MW of instantaneous wind generation was set June 14, which exceeded the 5,221-MW peak reached May 8.

Western natural gas prices also generally fell in Thursday-to-Thursday trading. SoCal CityGate lost the most value, dropping 76 cents to $1.83/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian Basin proved the exception, adding 50 cents to lift it out of the basement to 42 cents/MMBtu. But it was Alberta natural gas that posted the lowest price among Western hubs. It was 5 cents/MMBtu at the end of trading.

Henry Hub gas spot prices ended even at $2.32/MMBtu.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,203 Bcf as of June 14, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 115 Bcf compared to the previous week.

National natural gas use during the week decreased 1 percent week-over-week, according to the agency. Natural gas for power generation also eroded 1 percent compared to the previous week thanks in part to cooler Western temperatures and decreased cooling demand.