Next-day power markets were varied around the country Thursday, Dec. 22, as traders looked to mostly softer load outlooks for the end of the week and the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Traders also looked to natural gas for price direction at the power markets Thursday. Surging almost 28 cents in the prior session following a string of losses, front-month January 2017 gas futures settled Thursday at $3.538/MMBtu, down just 0.4 cent following a volatile day of trade after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected 209-Bcf pull from storage for the week ended Dec. 16.
Day-ahead natural gas prices were generally higher Thursday, which offered some upside support for daily power markets.
Generally weaker load projections suggest diminished load across the bulk of the country for week's end, when business-related demand typically wanes approaching the weekend break. Both load and trading action should be particularly soft in light of the Christmas holiday this weekend.
Northeast power prices see mixed moves ahead of holiday weekend
Power markets in the East were mixed, as weaker demand projections were met by gains in some regional gas values.
In New England at NEPOOL-Mass, on-peak power was priced in the low to mid-$60s, for a daily gain of about $10. Alongside the rally in power, gas at the Algonquin Citygates near Boston soared nearly $2.00 to an index around $8.50/MMBtu.
Conversely, in the Mid-Atlantic, where spot gas at TETCO-M3 ran 15 cents lower to an index near $3.15/MMBtu, on-peak power at the PJM West market in the Mid-Atlantic traded in the high $20s, easing about $2 on the session.
New England demand is seen hitting 17,000 MW on Friday, down 850 MW from Thursday, while New York load is anticipated to peak at 19,600 MW on Friday, declining 2,300 MW from Thursday.
Load in the PJM Western region is likely to reach 55,400 MW on Friday, down 1,100 MW from the day prior, while demand in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region could hit 36,300 MW on Friday, easing 100 MW from Thursday.
Prices at the Northeast day-ahead markets eased, with New England pegged at an average of $59.40, New York's Zone A marked at $26.12 and Zone G at $41.98.
Most West Coast power markets slide despite supportive fundamentals
West Coast power prices also chopped around Thursday but were mostly lower, even as weather-side support met with gains for regional gas values.
"A pre-Christmas storm with rain, wind and mountain snow will affect much of the western United States," AccuWeather.com said. The storm will dump heavy rain and snow on areas from Oregon all the way to California on Friday. The bullish weather will expand across the Four Corners region Dec. 24.
Traders out West continued to move revised packages, with parcels inked Thursday for Dec. 27 flow, a period of stronger demand after the return from the extended holiday weekend.
In California, heavy-load power deals at South Path-15 were reported in the mid-$30s, up $1-$2. In the Northwest, heavy-load power at COB was inked in the high $20s, easing $2-$3 on the session, with heavy-load packages at Mid-Columbia reported in the mid- to upper $20s, retreating almost $5.
Heavy-load power at Palo Verde traded in the mid-$20s, down $1-$2 from the prior session.
ERCOT power prices slip in face of firm demand, rising gas
Next-day power markets in Texas were down slightly Thursday, despite gains for regional gas prices and an expected firmness in demand for week's end.
At ERCOT North, peak power packages were inked in the mid-$20s, slipping about 50 cents.
Load in Texas could reach 39,700 MW on Friday, little changed from Thursday, according to the ERCOT grid operator.
After a bout of cold temperatures earlier in the week across Texas, warmer conditions are seen for much of the state over the next few days, ERCOT meteorologist Chris Coleman wrote in a Dec. 22 report.
As such, ERCOT DAM prices lost $3 to $4 on average on the session, coming in at $24.29 at ERCOT South, $24.33 at ERCOT North, $24.34 at ERCOT Houston and $24.35 at ERCOT West.
Midwest power markets prove lackluster in dull trade
Day-ahead power markets in the Midwest were lackluster in overall light activity.
According to forecasts from AccuWeather.com, a potent storm will cause dangerous blizzard conditions across the central U.S. during the Christmas weekend. "The storm will deliver everything from a wintry mix and a blizzard to drenching rain and severe thunderstorms to portions of the central United States," the forecasters noted.
Demand in the PJM AEP region could hit 17,800 MW on Friday, up 450 MW from Thursday, while load in the ComEd region near Chicago is called to reach 13,200 MW on Friday, rising 400 MW from Thursday.
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.