In the midst of a Stage Two emergency alert by the state gridoperator, California generating plants used every cubic foot ofnatural gas they could squeeze through the state’s pipeline systemto keep the air conditioners humming in response to a statewideheat wave throughout the inland valleys and deserts. The secondstage alert, enacted less than two hours after a Stage One had beencalled, required major utilities to seek voluntary curtailmentsamong some of their largest power users.
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In what was said to be a message for Wall Street rather thanstate energy regulators, PG&E Corp. announced Monday that itssecond quarter results due out July 21 will be lower-than-expectedbecause of continuing delays in getting a decision on its pendinggeneral rate case before the California Public UtilitiesCommission. The company made a similar announcement near the end ofthe first quarter.
BT Alex. Brown analyst Adam Sieminski said he expects U.S. gasprices to average $2.10/MMBtu this year, which is up 15 cents fromhis previous forecast of $1.95/MMBtu, because of rising demand,declining wellhead deliverability and the falling storage surpluscompared to last year. Sieminski said the tightness in marketfundamentals will peak this winter and carry strong prices throughnext year. He raised his forecast for prices in 2000 to $2.40 froma previous estimate of $2.20.
“Fundamentals are bearish, technicals are bullish, and today[Tuesday] the bulls beat the [socks off] of the bears.” Rather thandescribing a pro sports encounter between two Chicago teams, aHouston-based aggregator was summing up his view of the physicaland futures gas markets. Led by a soaring screen that dazzledobservers with its pyrotechnics (“this is crazy,” exclaimed onemarketer), cash prices were rising by a dime or more at nearly allpoints in the face of continuing widespread mild temperatures.
Convergence of gas and electricity is no longer a trend on thehorizon but rather the law of the land. Anyone doubting this needonly look at who the big players are in both commodities, notedKenneth D. Rice, CEO of Enron Capital & Trade Resources (ECT).