California natural gas prices are “among the highest” in the continental U.S. this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“California has the second-highest prices of any region in the Lower 48 states this summer, only exceeded by natural gas import prices at the Canadian border,” the agency stated in its weekly report, published Aug. 8.
SoCal CityGate has been trading above $3, but it fell to $2.75/MMBtu between Aug. 1 and Aug. 8.
The EIA also reported that nationwide natural gas consumption for power generation increased 3 percent week over week to reach a new all-time record of 44.4 Bcf per day on Aug. 7.
Most Western natural gas prices fell by between 13 cents and 28 cents in Aug. 1 to Aug. 8 trading. Alberta gas was the exception, adding 10 cents to reach $1.14/MMBtu.
Henry Hub gas spot prices also dropped in trading. Values fell 24 cents to $2.11/MMBtu.
Western daytime power prices continued shedding value, with prices down between $1.50 and as much as $6.05 in Aug. 1 to Aug. 8 trading. Mid-Columbia peak power lost the most, down $6.05 to $29.35/MWh. By Aug. 8, prices ranged from $29.35/MWh at Mid-C to $38.50/MWh at Palo Verde.
Pacific Northwest off-peak power and Palo Verde nighttime values picked up a couple of dollars by the end of trading, while North and South of Path 15 shed a couple. Nighttime power prices ranged from $22/MWh at Mid-C to $27.45/MWh at SP15.
California Independent System Operator demand reached 41,318 MW Aug. 6, which should be the week’s high. Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 14,749 MW Aug. 8, serving roughly 41 percent of demand. Thermal generation sources fulfilled 21,402 MW, or slightly more than 52 percent, of demand Aug. 5.
Working natural gas in storage was 2,689 Bcf as of Aug. 2, the EIA said. This was a net increase of 55 Bcf compared with the previous week.
The agency instituted an expanded analysis of power supply and prices. In its Aug. 6 Short-Term Energy Outlook, it included regional electricity supply forecasts plus new wholesale electricity price forecasts.
EIA analysts said lower natural gas costs are driving expectations that annual average wholesale electricity prices will be lower in 2019 than last year in all areas of the United States. It breaks the West into three new supply regions—California, Northwest and Southwest. It is forecasting the California regional wholesale price at SP15, for example, to be $36.91/MWh for 2019 compared with $47.33/MWh in 2018.