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US power markets retreat ahead of weekend; Mid-Columbia values firm

Next-day power prices across the U.S. were mixed to ultimately lower Thursday, March 22, as markets responded to outlooks for mostly deflated Friday demand.

Following reports of a less-than-expected 86-Bcf net withdrawal during the week ended March 16, the front-month April natural gas futures contract reversed an early uptick and closed the day in negative territory at $2.617/MMBtu, down 2.1 cents.

In other supply, total U.S. nuclear plant availability fell to 86.86% early March 22 due to curtailments at two reactors.

Low load forecasts pull down East dailies

Mostly lower load forecasts sent daily power markets in the East tumbling Thursday.

At next-day markets, power prices at the New England Mass hub and PJM West slipped by $7 to $9 from midweek and changed hands in the mid- to high $30s at the former and the mid-$30s at the latter.

Day-ahead trades in the Northeast also took a few steps back. DAMs in New York fell by $1 to $4 from Wednesday and averaged $24.81 at New York Zone A, $29.00 at Zone G and $36.61 at Zone J, while DAMs at the Mass hub tumbled more than $10 and averaged $37.43.

Demand in the Northeast is projected to fall as the workweek comes to a close. Load in New England may run up to 15,750 MW on Thursday and 15,300 MW on Friday, while demand in New York is called to peak at 18,857 MW on Thursday and 18,505 MW on Friday.

Load in the mid-Atlantic is mixed. Demand in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region could top out at 36,315 MW on Thursday and 36,451 MW on Friday, while load in the PJM Western region should crest at 56,409 MW on Thursday and 55,117 MW on Friday.

Western power markets tick lower in revised trade; Mid-Columbia packages notch gains

Daily power markets in the West, with the exception of Mid-Columbia, turned lower Thursday as values crumbled with the typically lower weekend demand associated with next-day schedule revisions alongside waning Friday load forecasts.

Deals in the West covered March 23-24 delivery with the inclusion of the lower-load weekend in the product working to pull down values. Demand in California is expected to reach highs of 27,481 MW on Thursday and 26,590 MW on Friday.

Bogged down by load, on-peak deals at South Path-15 tumbled more than $10 and spanned the mid- to high $20s.

In the Southwest, power packages shed $3 to $5 on the session and were traded in the high teens at Palo Verde and the low $20s at Mead.

Conversely, values in the Northwest moved mixed. Power markets at Mid-Columbia added slightly more than a dollar and ranged in the high $20s, while power deals at the California-Oregon Border hub were pegged in the low $20s, down less than a dollar from Wednesday.

Midwest day-ahead markets retreat on sagging demand forecasts

Expectations for subdued Friday demand worked to pull down day-ahead markets in the Midwest on Thursday.

Losses ranging from $8 to $12 were noted at PJM AEP Dayton and PJM Northern Illinois, where day-ahead power averaged $36.65 and $26.55, respectively.

In terms of demand, load in the PJM AEP region may hit highs of 18,554 MW on Thursday and 18,017 MW on Friday, while demand in the PJM ComEd region might near peaks of 11,908 MW on Thursday and 11,632 MW on Friday.

Texas DAMs favor losses despite strong load forecasts

Day-ahead markets in Texas leaned mixed to lower Thursday, contrary to projections for strong Friday demand.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas may touch highs of 40,108 MW on Thursday and 42,770 MW on Friday. However, day-ahead markets still turned mostly lower. DAMs at ERCOT Houston and ERCOT South shed $1 to $3 from Wednesday with power prices averaging $23.97 and $20.00, respectively, while DAMs at ERCOT West dropped more than $5 and averaged $12.09. DAMs at ERCOT North defied the trend, adding less than a dollar and averaging $24.48.

Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power and natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities pages.