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US daily power prices swing higher; West values rise with cold

Power prices in the U.S., especially those in the West, moved higher Wednesday Feb. 21, as values responded to cold weather enveloping parts of the country alongside outlooks for elevated Thursday demand.

Looking at the natural gas futures arena, the front-month March contract extended prior day gains and closed the session with a 4.3-cent increase at $2.659/MMBtu.

In other supply, total U.S. nuclear plant availability took a step forward early Feb. 21 to 92.94%.

The National Weather Service said that "a band of freezing rain is forecast across portions of the Southern Plains into the Middle Mississippi Valley," which may provide an increase in heating load.

Cold weather continues to bolster western power markets

Daily power prices in the West favored gains Wednesday as values reflected cold weather accross parts of the region.

The California ISO is calling for peaks of 29,393 MW on Wednesday and 29,635 MW on Thursday. Supported by load, power prices at North Path-15 and South Path-15 rose by almost $40 from Tuesday and ranged in the low to mid-$60s at the former and the mid-$80s to low $120s at the latter.

Power packages in the Southwest added more than $20 from Tuesday with deals spanning the mid-$50s to low $70s at Palo Verde and the low $60s at Mead. Gains of $10 to $15 were seen in the Northwest with power exchanged in the mid-$40s to low $50s at Mid-Columbia and the high $50s at the California-Oregon Border.

The California ISO declared Restricted Maintenance Operations for the Southern California region through 11:59 p.m. PT on Feb. 22, owing to higher-than-forecast loads and natural gas curtailments.

East dailies notch gains with load support

Projections for stronger Thursday demand helped daily power prices in the East move higher Wednesday.

At next-day markets, power deals at the New England Mass and PJM West hubs added $5 to $6 on the session with deals done in the high $20s to low $30s. New York Zone A trades were seen in the low $20s, up roughly $2 from Tuesday.

Day-ahead markets also nudged higher. DAMs at the Mass hub and New York Zone A rose by $6 to $8 and averaged $31.91 and $25.24, respectively, while DAMs at New York Zone G and Zone J added $2 to $3 from Tuesday and averaged $28.31 and $30.94, respectively.

Demand is set to rise in both the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. New England load may peak at 15,300 MW on Wednesday and 16,260 MW on Thursday, while New York demand is poised to reach highs of 18,761 MW on Wednesday and 19,386 MW on Thursday. Demand in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region could top out at 32,015 MW on Wednesday and 35,323 MW on Thursday, while load in the PJM Western region should crest at 50,318 MW on Wednesday and 51,738 MW on Thursday.

Texas DAMs move higher despite slack load outlooks

Day-ahead markets in Texas swung higher Wednesday despite forecasts for subdued Thursday demand.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is projecting highs of 47,164 MW on Wednesday and 45,258 MW on Thursday. However, day-ahead deals still added $3 to $4 on the session and averaged $31.80 at ERCOT Houston, $32.09 at ERCOT North, $32.28 at ERCOT South and $32.26 at ERCOT West.

Elsewhere in the south, next-day deals at Into Southern were pegged in the mid-$20s, up from a Tuesday assessment of $23.00.

Midwest markets pressured by varied demand, supported by weather

Conflicting cues from cold weather alongside mixed demand forecasts pressured prices in the Midwest on Wednesday.

In terms of load, demand in the PJM AEP region should near highs of 15,114 MW on Wednesday and 15,799 MW on Thursday while load in the PJM ComEd region may hit peaks of 12,871 MW on Wednesday and 12,633 MW on 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.