Mixed to ultimately higher moves were seen across U.S. next-day markets Friday, Feb. 23, with prices in some locations pressured by variations in regional load outlooks.
In natural gas futures trading, the front-month March contract ended the week 0.9 cent higher at $2.625/MMBtu with options expiring. The April contract, which will take the lead position at the close of business Feb. 26, shed 1.9 cents to settle at $2.657/MMBtu.
Looking at other supply, total U.S. nuclear plant availability managed to stay above the 93% level at 93.02% early Feb. 23.
AccuWeather.com said that "following a storm that brought snow Thursday night, two more snowstorms are lining up from parts of the central and northern Plains to the Upper Midwest into next week."
East markets biased lower with mixed demand
Daily power prices in the East leaned flat to lower Friday as prices at some locations derived little to no support from mixed Feb. 26 demand forecasts.
At next-day markets, power at the New England Mass hub changed hands in the mid-$20s, little changed from Thursday, while PJM West packages shed roughly a dollar and ranged in the mid-$20s as well.
Following outlooks for declining weekend demand, day-ahead markets turned lower. DAMs at the Mass hub, New York Zone A, Zone G and Zone J tumbled by $1 to $5 and averaged $23.92, $20.62, $25.08 and $25.83, respectively.
In terms of load, the New England grid operator is expecting peaks of 16,000 MW on Friday and 15,840 MW on Feb. 26, while highs of 18,959 MW on Friday and 19,034 MW on Feb. 26 are projected for New York. Demand in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region should top out at 34,858 MW on Friday and 33,471 MW on Feb. 26, while load in the PJM Western region could crest at 49,443 MW on Friday and 50,667 MW on Feb. 26.
Texas values firm with load support
Strong Feb. 26 demand forecasts provided power dailies in Texas with some backing Friday.
Demand in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is called to hit highs of 42,973 MW on Friday and 43,315 MW on Feb. 26. Next-day deals at ERCOT North were unchanged from Thursday and spanned the mid-$20s.
Day-ahead deals sagged with typically subdued weekend demand forecasts. DAMs at ERCOT Houston, ERCOT North, ERCOT South and ERCOT West shed $2 to $6 in the session and averaged $24.10, $20.73, $21.31 and $20.19, respectively.
Western power markets biased higher in revised trade
Potentially higher weekday demand associated with next-day schedule revisions helped keep most western U.S. power markets on the positive side of the ledger Friday.
In California, power prices at South Path-15 rose more than $9 and ranged in the low $40s. In the Northwest, packages at Mid-Columbia rose about $2 and spanned the mid-$20s. Mixed but predominantly muted moves were seen in the Southwest, with Palo Verde steady to Thursday in the mid-$20s to low $30s while packages at Mead eased less than a dollar and were priced in the low $30s.
The California ISO is projecting peaks of 27,937 MW on Friday and 26,187 MW on Saturday.
Midwest markets close truncated workweek pressured by load
Diverging demand forecasts gave markets in the Midwest little support Friday.
Grid operators are expecting mixed load to start the new workweek. Load in the PJM AEP region could near 14,976 MW on Friday and 15,739 MW on Feb. 26, while demand in the PJM ComEd region should run up to 12,136 MW on Friday and 11,701 MW on Feb. 26.
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.