Thursday, April 17, 2008

Snow melt, temperatures, planned outages at coal and nuclear facilities and a myriad of other key market factors will influence Pacific Northwest energy markets

DENVER (April 17, 2008) - The 2008 Pacific Northwest snow melt and its consequent impact on power and gas markets is unusually late this year, according to a newly launched publication from BENTEK Energy, LLC. Cool and dry spring weather, combined with available water within the normal range will moderate the impact of the seasonal run-off, or surge on regional gas and power prices. However, uncertainty in Pacific Northwest energy markets will remain high due to other factors such as unexpected weather developments, plant outages and power transmission line constraints.

"The number one question in the Pacific Northwest this time of year is always, 'When will the water run?'" says Kim Ward, BENTEK senior analyst. "This is one of the most important events influencing the Pacific Northwest energy market each year. When the snow melt begins, power generation increases, the demand for gas fired generation declines and gas prices typically soften. This year, flows over the Dalles Dam are not expected to impact the market at least until May 1st, a full month later than last year."

Hydropower facilities are responsible for up to 60% of the power generated in the Pacific Northwest, and the uncertainty of water flow patterns creates a power supply scenario unlike anywhere else in North America. The availability of hydropower is a function of several factors, the most important of which is the runoff from melting snow in the region. In past years, the advent of runoff has been the major driver of a sharp divergence in area power prices; this year, with runoff delayed until well into maintenance season, other factors such as plant outages and local weather developments are expected to overshadow the release of water as a primary determinant of regional energy pricing.

A new daily report and alert service from BENTEK, the Pacific Northwest Observer™, provides a continuing assessment of a wide range of factors that impact power and gas prices in the region, including natural gas capacities and flows, weather forecasts, power transmission constraints, water level behind key dams, water management for fish passage activities and planned outages at coal and nuclear power plants.

BENTEK has partnered with Industrial Info Resources (IIR) to provide plant outage data in the Pacific Northwest Observer™. Currently IIR indicates that outages at one coal plant and one nuclear plant are influencing the Pacific Northwest market, while three major area coal plants will be out in the next month. IIR also provides near-real-time information on unplanned outages, which can affect the market even more.

"We are very pleased to provide IIR outage information to our clients as part of our Pacific Northwest energy market coverage", said Samantha Fox, BENTEK market analyst for the region. "IIR is the gold standard for plant outage and maintenance data. Combining this with BENTEK's detailed analysis of water flow, natural gas use and other key variables provides a comprehensive picture of the energy supply-demand balance in the Pacific Northwest."

For more information about BENTEK's daily Pacific Northwest Observer™, go to or call BENTEK at 888-251-1264.

About BENTEK Energy, LLC

BENTEK Energy, LLC, is an energy markets information company based in Golden, Colorado. The company brings customers the analytical tools and competitive intelligence needed in order to make critical, bottom-line decisions in today's natural gas and power markets. Additional information about BENTEK Energy is available on the Web at

About IIR

Industrial Information Resources Incorporated (Houston) is the most comprehensive provider of outage information and a world leader in news on the industrial and energy-related markets. For more information about IIR go to