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US POWER TRACKER: Heavy loads, pricey gas boost Midcontinent ISO prices in July


September on-peak forwards in triple digits

Cooling-degree days up 15.3% from July 2021

Power burn up in July, likely up in September

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Most Midcontinent Independent System Operator wholesale power prices in July surged to levels more than twice July 2021 levels, driven by heavier peakloads, stronger natural gas prices and a month-to-month decrease in wind output, and September forwards averaged in triple digits, more than 2.5 times year-ago levels.

Day-ahead on-peak locational marginal prices in July averaged in a range of the mid-$70s/MWh to more than $110/MWh across the 15-state footprint that stretches from Canada to the Gulf Coast, S&P Global Commodity Insights price data shows. In July 2021, those prices were all in the low to mid-$40s/MWh. In June, they ranged ranged from the mid-$60s/MWh to more than $115/MWh.

Driven by high temperatures, peakloads averaged 104.9 GW in July, up 5.5% from June's 99.4 GW and up 2.4% from July 2021's 102.4 GW, according to MISO data collected by S&P Global.

July's population-weighted average cooling-degree days were 42% higher than June's and 15.3% higher than July 2021's CDDs, CustomWeather data shows. Population-weighted temperatures averaged 75.6 F in July, up 4.9% from June's 72.1 F and up 1.9% from July 2021's 74.2 F.

At the Chicago city-gates, spot gas averaged $6.816/MMBtu in July, down 8.1% from June's $7.42/MMBtu but up almost 89% from July 2021's $3.608/MMBtu. Henry Hub spot gas averaged $7.104/MMBtu in July, down 7.7% from June's $7.694/MMBtu but up by more than 87% from July 2021's $3.795/MMBtu.

Generation mix

Despite higher gas prices, MISO's gas-fired generation average daily output surged to almost 785.5 GWh in July from June's 691.3 GWh and July 2021's 609.6 GWh. This was enough for the gas fleet to have a share of more than 39% in July, up from 37.5% in June and less than 32% in July 2021.

Power burn was also strong, averaging 4.9 Bcf/day in July, up from less than 4.4 Bcf/d in June and less than 4 Bcf/d in July 2021.

The coal fleet also produced at higher levels in July, averaging 754.7 GWh/d in comparison with June's 691.3 GWh/d and July 2021's 609.6 GWh/d, representing shares of 37.6%, 33.7% and 44.5%, respectively.

Nuclear power came in third, producing 252.2 GWh/d in July, down slightly from June's 253 GWh/d and down substantially from July 2021s 265.5 GWh/d, representing shares of 12.6%, 13.7% and 6.5%, respectively.

MISO's wind fleet output was down on the month but up on the year, producing 167.3 GWh/d in July, compared with June's 253 GWh/d and July 2021's 124 GWh/d, representing shares of 8.3%, 11.8% and 6.5%, respectively.

Forward markets

In forward markets, September power and gas packages were down on the month but up sharply from what September 2021 packages averaged in July 2021.

For example, Indiana Hub September on-peak power averaged about $120.25/MWh in July, down 2.6% from $123.50/MWh in June but more than 170% higher than the $44.50/MWh that the September 2021 package averaged in July 2021.

Louisiana Hub September on-peak power averaged more than $112/MWh in July, down 2.8% from about $115.35/MWh in June but up 162.5% from the $42.70/MWh that the September 2021 package averaged in July 2021.

Chicagocity-gates September gas averaged $6.842/MMBtu in July, down 5.7% from June's $7.255/MMBtu but up 88.9% from the $3.623/MMBtu that September 2021 gas averaged in July 2021.

Henry Hub September gas averaged $7.102/MMBtu in July, down 6.2% from June's $7.57/MMBtu but up 87.2% from the $3.793/MMBtu that September 2021 gas averaged in July 2021.

Despite higher gas forwards, Platts Analytics forecasts MISO gas-fired generation to produce at levels equivalent to 532.5 GWh/d in September, up 22.4% from September 2021 levels, which, assuming similar heat rates, would have MISO's gas fleet burning almost 3.9 Bcf/d in September.

The National Weather Service on July 21 forecast enhanced chances – 33% to 50% -- for above-normal temperatures in August, September and October across virtually all of the MISO footprint.