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AM Power Report: Daily markets could run mixed

Following a session of mostly gains at midweek, next-day power prices could run mixed Thursday, Dec. 7, as traders look to varied demand forecasts for week's end and potential volatility in natural gas.

Squeaking out a less than 1 cent uptick Dec. 6, front-month January 2018 natural gas was solidly lower early Thursday ahead of the market open and the mid morning release of the latest round of storage data. At 6:45 a.m. ET, the contract was down 9.8 cents on profit-taking and selling to $2.824/MMBtu.

For the week ended Dec. 1, analysts and traders are calling for an average 7-Bcf pull from natural gas storage amid a reporting week of overall mild weather in many regions of the country.

Day-ahead natural gas prices at the major consuming hubs are likely to move in lock step with the futures market.

Looking at demand, in the Northeast, New England load is expected to hit highs at 16,900 MW on Thursday and 17,000 MW on Friday. Demand in New York is called to reach 21,500 MW on Thursday and 20,465 MW on Friday.

In the Mid-Atlantic, PJM Western load is seen peaking at 59,385 MW on Thursday and 58,000 MW on Friday. PJM Mid-Atlantic region demand could top out at 36,130 MW on Thursday and 36,500 MW on Friday.

In the Midwest, PJM AEP region load is called to hit 18,000 MW on Thursday and 18,900 MW on Friday. Demand at PJM ComEd near Chicago is expected to crest at 14,140 MW on Thursday and 13,140 MW on Friday.

Texas load is likely to top out near 51,425 MW on Thursday and 51,450 MW on Friday. California ISO demand is anticipated to reach 30,500 MW on Thursday and 30,100 MW on Friday before likely leaking even lower over the weekend.

At the term markets, power prices for January 2018 were mixed but mostly higher Dec. 6, as the small gain at the natural gas futures complex implied increased fueling costs.

In the East, transactions for month-ahead power added roughly $1 to average at near $82 in New England but slumped by about 20 cents to an index close to $45 at PJM West. Along the forward curve, power trades for February 2018 were similarly assessed in the low $80s in New England and in the low to mid-$40s at PJM West.

In the Midwest, January 2018 power values were near unchanged at an index at approximately $39 at PJM AD but off a little more than $1 at an average atop $35 at PJM Northern Illinois. MISO Indiana prompt-month pricing was up about 10 cents on the day to an index at roughly $37. Prices for February 2018 power spanned the low to high $30s.

In the South, power deals for January 2018 tacked on almost 10 cents to average atop $26 at ERCOT North and near $25 at ERCOT West, but deflated by 40 cents to indexes near $28 at ERCOT South and $29 at ERCOT Houston. Regional trading activity for February 2018 power also ran through the low to high $20s.

In the West, front-month power pricing picked up $1 in California to average above $36 at North Path-15 and $38 at South Path-15. Price action for prompt-month power also rose by around $1 to an index above $28 at Mid-Columbia and advanced by 40 cents to an index at almost $27 at Palo Verde. Power prices for February 2018 were pegged in the low to high $30s in California and in the low to high $20s elsewhere in the region.

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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.