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Cold weather drive gains in East; West values falter

Next-day power markets across the country were mixed Friday, Dec. 8, with cold weather fueling gains in the East but with West values turning lower with slack gas prices.

After posting sizable losses the day prior, the front-month January 2018 natural gas futures contract saw a small recovery Friday and closed the session up 0.9 cent to settle at $2.772/MMBtu. Spot gas markets, excluding those in the Northeast, favored losses and offered most locations with no support.

According to the National Weather Service, "Snow will move into the Mid-Atlantic, parts of the Northeast and New England this weekend," which may boost heating demand in those areas.

Following a small curtailment at Riverstone Holdings LLC's Susquehanna 2 in Pennsylvania, total U.S. nuclear plant availability slipped to 96.30% early Dec. 8.

East dailies surge with cold weather prospects

Incoming cold weather potentially driving up heating demand and spot gas prices lifted most markets in the East on Friday but with biased lower demand forecasts keeping the uptick in check.

At next-day markets, the New England Mass hub traded power in the low $70s, climbing from a prior index of $41.50, while New York Zone G packages rose by roughly $15 and spanned the mid-$50s. PJM West transactions were about $3 higher from Dec. 7 and were pegged in the high $30s to low $40s.

Day-ahead markets were biased higher despite typically subdued weekend demand. The Mass hub saw deals add about $4 and average $45.33, while New York Zone G and New York Zone J trades were steady to Thursday and averaged $39.62 and $40.16, respectively. New York Zone A packages defied the trend and shed about a dollar to drop to an average of $33.74.

Mixed demand may be in store for the Northeast. New England load should crest at 17,000 MW on Friday and 16,600 MW on Dec. 11, while New York demand may top out at 21,000 MW on Friday and 21,235 MW on Dec. 11.

Mid-Atlantic load forecasts are aimed lower. The PJM Mid-Atlantic region is expecting peaks of 39,050 MW on Friday and 38,204 MW on Dec. 11, while the PJM Western region could see load reach 58,788 MW on Friday and 56,402 MW on Dec. 11.

West values retreat with biased lower gas prices

A downtick in spot gas prices countered potentially higher weekday demand associated with next-day schedule revisions and worked to pull down most power markets in the West on Friday.

In the Southwest, power packages shed $1 to $3 and ranged in the mid- to high $20s at Palo Verde and the high $20s to low $30s at Mead. In California, South Path-15 deals shed less than $1 and were done in the low $50s. In the Northwest, Mid-Columbia packages added $1 and were quoted in the mid-$ 20s. Power at the California-Oregon Border was pegged in the low $20s, down by roughly $2 from Dec. 7.

Demand in California is called to peak at 29,615 MW on Friday and 27,594 MW on Saturday but with demand possibly rebounding at the start of the workweek Dec. 11.

Texas DAMs tick lower with slack weekend demand forecasts

Typically subdued weekend demand forecasts and a fall in regional spot gas prices pulled down day-ahead markets in Texas on Friday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is projecting peaks of 54,650 MW on Friday, 49,209 MW on Saturday and 44,093 MW on Dec. 11.

Bogged down by the load outlook, day-ahead markets at ERCOT Houston, ERCOT North, ERCOT South and ERCOT West fell by $4 to $6 on the session and averaged $23.30, $22.61, $23.86 and $22.93, respectively.

Midwest markets exit workweek unsupported

Power markets in the Midwest spent a quiet Friday session unsupported by slack demand forecasts and sagging spot gas prices.

Grid operators in the region may see lower demand to kick off the workweek. The PJM AEP region could reach highs of 19,061 MW on Friday and 18,348 MW on Dec. 11, while the PJM ComEd region load should near peaks of 13,171 MW on Friday and 13,045 MW on Dec. 11.

The Midcontinent ISO declared a Severe Weather Alert for certain areas of the South region from Dec. 8 at 6:45 a.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET as they expect snow and ice along with temperatures below freezing.

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.