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AM Power Report: Dailies could open week choppy with demand, up with gas

Price action for day-ahead power could be mixed to higher in the week's opening session Monday, April 3, as varied demand outlooks for Tuesday combine with a renewed uptick at the natural gas futures complex.

Ending the prior session near unchanged, May natural gas futures were moving higher early Monday ahead of the opening bell. At 6:40 a.m. ET, the front-month contract was up 4.3 cents at $3.233/MMBtu on short covering and fresh buying.

Day-ahead natural gas pricing should follow the day's lead in the futures arena, and could be poised for gains at many major consuming hubs Monday, which could offer upside support for many power markets.

On the demand side, grid operators across the country anticipate diverging load as the fresh workweek unfolds.

In the Northeast, demand in New England could see highs at 14,950 MW on Monday and 15,410 MW on Tuesday, while load in New York could crest at 17,836 MW at the start of the new workweek and 17,920 MW on Tuesday. In the Mid-Atlantic, PJM Western region demand could top out at 47,188 MW on Monday and 46,868 MW on Tuesday, while PJM Mid-Atlantic load could hit highs at 30,806 MW on Monday and 30,498 MW on Tuesday.

In the Midwest, demand in the PJM AEP region is expected to reach highs at 14,699 MW on Monday and 14,495 MW on Tuesday, while load in PJM ComEd is forecast to peak at 11,305 MW at the return of the workweek and 11,175 MW on Tuesday.

In the South, ERCOT load is called to reach 45,128 MW on Monday and 47,313 MW on Tuesday. In the West, CAISO demand should near 27,750 MW on Monday and 28,850 MW on Tuesday.

In forward activity, power for May delivery predominantly notched gains ahead of the weekend and its debut as the front-month offering at the return of the workweek, despite the recent weakness at the natural gas futures arena that implied cheaper fueling costs. Power for April was likewise choppy with an upside bias in its final day in the lead slot.

In the East, price action for May power was up more than $1 to an index atop $34 at NEPOOL-Mass and bolstered by 45 cents to an average near $37 at PJM West. Power values for April rose by around $2 to an index above $40 in New England but slumped by 15 cents against the broad uptick to an average above $35 at PJM West.

In the Midwest, power transactions for May at PJM AD, PJM Northern Illinois and MISO Indiana added about 50 cents to 70 cents to average on either side of $35. Power for April delivery was quoted at roughly $33 in deals up almost 20 cents at PJM Northern Illinois, while a similar offering was marked at around $35 in trades flat on the day at PJM AD and about 10 cents higher at MISO Indiana.

In the South, values for May power climbed by about 10 cents to an average at almost $26 at ERCOT West but fell by as much as 60 cents against the dominant uptrend to indexes ranging roughly from $27 to $33 at the rest of the ERCOT markets. Pricing for April power also rose by nearly 10 cents to an average atop $26 at ERCOT West but recoiled by around 50 cents against the wider advance to indexes spread from about $28 to $37 at the rest of the ERCOT hubs.

In the West, California saw power deals for May tack on almost 50 cents to average near $25 at North Path-15 and ascend by 40 cents to an index close to $24 at South Path-15, while similar transactions shed about 10 cents to average at around $12 at Mid-Columbia and climbed by more than $1 to an index at roughly $24 at Palo Verde. April power trades jumped by $1 to an average near $21 at NP-15 and advanced by 25 cents to an index of $20 at SP-1, but rose by roughly 90 cents to an average at about $8 at Mid-C and faltered by almost 30 cents to an index also at close to $20 at Palo Verde.

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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.