California Independent System Operator demand decreased throughout the week as voluntary efforts to sequester to stem the spread of COVID-19 transformed into a stay-at-home order by Gov. Gavin Newsom (see related story).

CAISO demand reached 27,313 MW March 16, which should be the week's high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 67,160 MW that same day.

Demand in CAISO decreased 1,051 MW between March 14 and March 19, with usage dropping 694 MW between March 16 and March 17 alone.

Power and natural gas demand is expected to continue to soften as schools close, large events are canceled, and more people shift to working from home. "We have started to see the impact[s] . . . and will now continue to see them as we move into the month of April," Energy GPS analysts said in a March 18 note. They noted the natural gas forward curve has moved to around $1.60/MMBtu.

Henry Hub natural gas values dropped 20 cents to $1.62/MMBtu in March 12 to March 19 trading. 

As the end of storage season approaches, analysts are also keeping an eye on national natural gas stocks.

National working natural gas in storage was 2,034 Bcf as of March 13, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This is a net decrease of 9 Bcf compared with the previous week. Natural gas usage for power generation increased 8 percent week over week, according to EIA analysts.

The current average withdrawal rate is 13 percent less than the five-year average. Should the withdrawal rate match the five-year average of 3.1 Bcf per day for the remainder of the withdrawal season, the total inventory would be 1,978 Bcf on March 31, which is 281 Bcf more than the five-year average.

The Pacific Region withdrew 1 Bcf of natural gas during the EIA report week, bringing the regional stock to 199 Bcf, a roughly 103-percent increase compared with last year, when there was 98 Bcf in storage.

A total of 3.835 Bcf was withdrawn from Aliso Canyon on the gas days between March 12 and March 18, according to ENVOY reports. A "gas day" spans 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Western natural gas prices generally lost value in the trading period, eroding between 2 cents and as much as 51 cents. Sumas natural gas posted the greatest loss, down 51 cents to $1.58/MMBtu. 

El Paso-San Juan Basin and El Paso-Permian Basin natural gas added 17 cents and 25 cents, respectively, to reach $1.40/MMBtu and $1.03/MMBtu.

Among Western peak power prices, Mid-Columbia gained $3.65 in trading to reach $27.25/MWh. South of Path 15 lost the most value, down $5.30 to $28.05/MWh by March 19.

Nighttime power prices varied similarly. Mid-C off-peak power gained the most value, increasing $5.10 to $25.10/MWh. North of Path 15 nighttime power was down $4.05 to $25.75/MWh.

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