The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Thursday took a couple of actions dealing with natural gas utility rates that are footnotes to more turbulent times in the state’s evolving gas markets. On the one hand, the CPUC established a proceeding to allocate settlement monies from past lawsuits stemming from the 1999-2002 energy crisis, but it rejected a request to suspend a long-standing market-indexed capital cost adjustment mechanism.
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Other than slightly warmer trends in the South, weather fundamentals were still light for the gas market as a whole. But as a couple of sources had predicted, the previous day’s 41.4-cent spike by futures was able to propel most points to double-digit gains Tuesday. But continuing issues with excess supply caused a few western locations to be as much as about a nickel lower.
Chesapeake Energy Corp., whose stock price has been pummeled in the last couple of months, caught a break on Thursday after it landed a fresh line of credit for a new midstream spin-off and after the market responded positively to rumors that BP plc, already a joint partner, may be eyeing some of its natural gas assets.
As a couple of producers had expected (see Daily GPI, May 9), softness dominated the cash market Friday. A cooling trend in the Northeast proved to be short-lived, and while weather-based demand was growing a bit here and there, the overall temperature picture remained fairly moderate. A 6.4-cent futures loss the day before and the drop of industrial load during a weekend contributed to the general bearishness.
A couple of Pacific Northwest utilities were sent in opposite directions by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Thursday as the credit rating agency boosted Spokane, WA-based Avista Corp. one notch to “BBB-” and Cascade Natural Gas Corp. was granted its request to withdraw its “BBB+” corporate and senior unsecured debt rating.
Following a brutally cold and snowy Martin Luther King Day weekend for most of the U.S. and Canada, the forecast looked to be more of the same for the next couple of days before a moderate warm-up begins late this week. But despite the continuation of heavy heating load prices fell Tuesday at all points, including triple-digit plunges at Northeast citygates.
A couple of Northeast citygates averaged more than $37 Wednesday as prices rose at all points — mostly by large amounts. Traders returned from the long New Year’s weekend to find much of the U.S. and Canada enduring deep-freeze conditions that were most intense in the eastern halves of both nations and could be expected to last into Thursday.