Maintenance issues contributed to a divergence in Western energy prices this week.
The latest manual snowpack measurements by the California Department of Water Resources at Phillips Station found April 1 conditions "well below normal," with 49.5 inches of snow depth and a snow-water equivalent of 21 inches—83 percent of average for the location.
While natural gas price trajectories varied and power prices ratcheted higher due to cooler weather and supply constraints, Western energy prices were generally bolstered March 8-12.
Weather-inflated Western energy prices continued to moderate this week. While power prices plunged sharply in trading, without the demand support or supply constraints of the prior week, regional natural gas prices leveled off.
Frigid conditions across the continental U.S. sent Western energy prices on a rollercoaster ride in the abbreviated Feb. 11 to Feb. 18 trading period. Markets were closed Monday, Feb. 15, in observance of Presidents Day.
Western energy price movement was nominal, if not tame, following the flip of the calendar to 2021. Demand was sufficiently soft that additions were made to California natural gas storage during the Dec. 31 through Jan. 7 trading period.
In a reversal of last week's peak power price movements, Pacific Northwest power prices picked up value while other Western hubs lost four to five dollars.
Lacking an Arctic blast or other seasonal weather changes to propel demand, Pacific Northwest power prices sagged while other regional prices ticked up a few dollars.
In initial forecasts for the 2021 Western water year, Pacific Northwest hydro generation appears to be in good shape; however, similar California forecasts have yet to be issued.
Western energy prices seemed to have nowhere specific to go in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, and without clear support or pressure on them, the daytime power prices remained relatively flat between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25, but fell slightly by the end of trading.
Increased solar-generation has precipitated an added need for natural gas-fired generation between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to meet California power demand, according to a new U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis.
Western daytime power prices in the Oct. 15 through Oct. 22 trading period deflated from heat-prompted highs as temperatures, particularly in Southern California, returned to seasonal norms by Oct. 21.
A series of generation and distribution outages—off-line nuclear generation, public-safety power shut-offs (PSPS), and forces majeures—pushed Western energy prices higher.
Cooler weather, rampant wildfires, and natural gas production shut in by hurricanes combined over the past week to confuse Western energy prices. There was no unified pattern in either power or natural gas price movements over the Sept. 10 to Sept. 17 trading period.
It could be expected that record heat forecast through Sept. 7 across the West would give regional prices a uniform boost in anticipation of higher demand, but that scenario hadn't played out as of Sept. 4.
Although extreme heat appears to no longer be triggering high energy prices, there are now wildfires and hurricanes exerting pressure on power and natural gas values.
With an excessive-heat warning and heat advisories issued across the Western United States, the anticipation of higher demand bolstered regional energy prices with the potential for prices to trend higher still as the heat persists.
In addition to ongoing storage restrictions across the Southern California Gas system, transmission in the region was constricted by pipeline outages that exerted pressure on prices.
Natural gas and electricity prices rose this week as Southern California Gas Co. imposed additional restrictions on its system and daytime temperatures surged.
Renewables curtailments on the California ISO grid are always a hot summertime topic. However, in the COVID-19 era, conventional demand and energy-use patterns are no longer readily comparable.
Warm weather across the United States during the first half of July could translate into greater demand and a boost to natural gas markets, but the specter of COVID-19 looms.
Western energy prices lifted as weather conditions moved to seasonally normal temperatures, with triple-digit highs posted in portions of Arizona and the San Joaquin Valley the week of June 22.
Natural gas prices at the benchmark Henry Hub reached a low of $1.38/MMBtu June 16, the lowest price since December 1998 "in nominal terms," the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
Pacific Northwest nighttime power prices retreated underwater with ample hydro generation in the region. Mid-Columbia off-peak power spent most of the May 28 to June 4 trading period in negative pricing territory. The hub dropped $7.65 in trading, ending at minus 50 cents/MWh June 4. The day…
As Pacific Northwest hydro generation continued increasing the week of May 18, Mid-Columbia pricing went underwater and Columbia Generating Station reduced generation to compensate.
The final California snowpack measurement of the season shows March and April precipitation failed to offset extreme dryness early in the water year.
In recent weeks, California ISO demand has been softened by state stay-at-home order, but the latest usage climbed as the week progressed, mirroring rising temperatures, with demand increasing by almost 21 percent between April 19 and April 23.
Demand and market uncertainty continued weighing on Western energy prices as the temporary unavailability of Aliso Canyon storage threw one more spanner in the works for regional natural gas markets.