July 25, 2018 / 12:30 PM / a year ago

U.S. West power prices soar to all-time highs again in heat wave

    July 25 (Reuters) - Power prices for Wednesday in some U.S. Western markets rose to
all-time highs for a second day in a row as consumers kept their air conditioners cranked
up to escape a brutal heat wave blanketing much of the region.
    In California, the state's power grid operator urged customers to conserve energy to
reduce the risk of rotating power outages and other emergency measures, resulting from
lower electricity imports, tight gas supplies in Southern California and high wildfire
    Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), which supplies gas to over 21 million consumers
in the southern part of the state, issued a curtailment watch this week, notifying
customers to be prepared to reduce gas use if needed, as power generators burn more fuel
than usual to keep air conditioners humming.
    SoCalGas projected gas demand would rise from 3.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd)
on Tuesday to 3.1 bcfd on Wednesday and Thursday before easing to 2.7 bcfd on Friday,
while receipts of the fuel via pipelines were only expected to total 2.7 bcfd.
    That means the utility will have to tap storage fields to make up the difference.
    One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
    SoCalGas is a unit of Sempra Energy. Other big utilities in California
include units of Edison International and PG&E Corp.
    High temperatures in Los Angeles will mostly continue to top 90 Fahrenheit (32
Celsius) through Friday, with the mercury expected to reach 98 on Wednesday, according to
AccuWeather. The normal high in the city is 84 at this time of year.
    The California Independent System Operator (ISO), the power grid operator, forecast
use would peak at 49,489 MW on Wednesday before sliding to 47,888 MW on Thursday. That
falls short of the grid's all-time high of 50,270 MW in July 2006, in part because of the
state's efficiency and home solar programs.
    One megawatt can usually power about 1,000 U.S. homes, but many fewer during a heat
    High temperatures in Phoenix, meanwhile, will continue top 110 through Friday,
according to AccuWeather. That is hot even for the desert city, where the mercury has hit
the triple digits every day since the end of May and the normal high at this time of year
is 106.
    Power prices for Wednesday soared to their highest on record at Palo Verde
EL-PK-PLVD-SNL in Arizona and SP-15 EL-PK-SP15-SNL in Southern California, according
to data from S&P Global's SNL going back to 2010.

 Power and Natural Gas Prices                                                            
                                          Trade date                                     
 Hub                  Unit             July 23  July 20  Year-to-d  Calendar  Five-year
                                                         ate 2018   2017      (2013-2017)
 Mid Columbia power   Megawatt-hour    200.00   230.00     24.50     26.25       30.33
 Palo Verde power     Megawatt-hour    291.00   175.75     32.63     32.94       33.15
 SP-15 power          Megawatt-hour    301.25    83.00     35.16     39.32       41.11
 SoCal Citygate gas   Million British   19.50    38.84     4.14       3.48       3.51
 NG-SCL-CGT-SNL     thermal units                                           
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino)
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