U.S. power prices down 85% nationwide from year-ago levels

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 27, 2002 — U.S. wholesale day-ahead power prices are down 85% from year-ago levels, according to new data just released.

The average of benchmark prices across the nation fell $121.75 to $22.01 per megawatt hour (MWh) from mid-February 2001, according to a new survey by Platts.

The national average slipped only 16 cents from January to February.

The greatest year-on-year declines remain in the Western U.S., where the region’s power crisis sent prices to record levels last year. However, prices east of the continental divide also saw a significant drop.

Day-ahead prices for Mid-Columbia, the benchmark trading hub for the Northwest and the major supply source of hydroelectric power, fell 95% from $452.89/MWh in mid-February 2001. In the last month, prices rose 6% to an average of $21.43/MWh.

At Palo Verde, the most active Western hub, day-ahead prices slipped 94% to $23.82/MWh from $397.63/MWh in mid-February 2001. Palo Verde spot prices have moved up 67 cents in the last month.

Northern and Southern California spot prices were each down 94% year-on-year from an average of $433.11/MWh and $452/MWh, respectively. NP15, which corresponds to the California Independent System Operator’s congestion zone for the Northern portion of the state, saw prices rise 7% to $25.67/MWh from January to February. Prices for SP15, which corresponds to the Southern portion of the state, climbed 7% to $25.66/MWh during the month.

In January last year, the state was plagued by shortages and credit issue, which caused rolling blackouts and curtailments of power to retail customers with non-firm contracts.

Spot power prices in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states saw declines both year-on-year and month-on-month.

New England day-ahead prices fell 43% to $27.42/MWh from $47.77/MWh in mid-February 2001 when strong natural gas prices buoyed prices. Prices are down $2.55 from last month.

PJM West, key trading hub for the mid-Atlantic states, saw prices slip 24% to $21.98/MWh from $28.99/MWh February 2001. Prices in PJM are down $1.54 from last month.

Spot price movements in the Midwest and south-central U.S. have been just as dramatic in the last year.

Into Cinergy day-ahead prices fell 51% to $18.58/MWh from $38.64/MWh year-on-year. Prices have moved up $154 since last month.

Price for delivery to ERCOT, the grid operator for Texas, were $18.47/MWh in mid-February, a 58% drop from the same time last year. The day-ahead prices have climbed $1.07.

Additional information is available at www.platts.com and www.plattsmetals.com.


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