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Varied fundamentals leave power markets mixed ahead of midweek

Conflicting signals from Wednesday demand forecasts and mixed spot gas prices left power dailies in the U.S. pointed in different directions Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Ticking higher in early trade, the front-month November natural gas futures contract pared gains but still managed to close on the positive side of the ledger at $2.962/MMBtu, up 1.6 cents. On the other hand, spot gas markets chopped around and provided power trading hubs with little support.

With the return of Duke Energy Corp.'s McGuire 1 in North Carolina, total U.S. nuclear plant availability rose to 86.52%, well above this time last year.

Looking at the weather, according to the National Weather Service, an active fall storm pattern will bring areas of heavy rain and high-elevation snow to the Northwest this week while the Northeast may get a feeling of fall through midweek owing to a cold front.

Northwest, Southwest markets move higher; Calif. dailies flounder

Aside from California, daily power markets in the West moved higher Tuesday, as spot gas gains countered outlooks for sagging midweek demand.

In the Northwest, power prices at Mid-Columbia added around $5 in the high $20s to low $30s, while the California-Oregon Border hub saw deals rise about $8 in the mid-$40s. In the Southwest, on-peak trades at Palo Verde rose by roughly $9 in the high $40s to low $50s, while Mead transactions were around $5 higher in the mid- to high $40s.

Conversely, heavy-load trades at South Path-15 shed around $2 and changed hands in the mid- to high $50s. The California ISO is projecting peaks of 33,921 MW on Tuesday and 32,219 MW by the midweek.

East values retreat on mixed demand, falling gas prices

Daily power prices in the East took a few steps back Tuesday amid mixed demand forecasts and lower regional spot gas prices.

At next-day markets, power prices at the New England Mass hub and PJM West slipped by $1 to $3 from Monday and ranged in the mid- to high $30s at the former and the high $20s to low $30s at the latter.

Day-ahead markets in the Northeast were varied. Mass hub slipped about $6 and averaged $36.17 while New York Zone A eased to $26.52. New York Zone J added around $5 and averaged $36.08 while New York Zone G was flat to Monday at $31.32.

Load in the Northeast is expected to rise with demand in New England possibly reaching 14,650 MW on Tuesday and 14,820 MW on Wednesday, while load in New York should touch 18,165 MW on Tuesday and 18,285 MW on Wednesday.

On the flip side, demand in the mid-Atlantic is projected to fall with load in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region potentially topping out at 30,671 MW on Tuesday and 30,563 MW on Wednesday, while load in the PJM Western region should crest at 46,555 MW on Tuesday and 46,499 MW on Wednesday.

Texas day-ahead values rise with load support

Strong midweek demand forecasts and higher spot gas prices supported day-ahead markets in Texas on Tuesday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is expecting demand to run up to 40,355 MW on Tuesday and 46,191 MW on Wednesday.

Inspired by load, day-ahead deals at ERCOT Houston, ERCOT North, ERCOT South and ERCOT West added $1 to $2 from Monday to averages of $27.50, $21.72, $25.35 and $22.25, respectively.

Midwest markets sag on varied load outlooks

Expectations of choppy midweek demand helped drive down day-ahead markets in the Midwest on Tuesday with values also seeing little support from flat to lower spot gas prices.

Day-ahead power at PJM AEP-Dayton and PJM Northern Illinois slipped by $3 to $6 from Monday and averaged $32.29 at the former and $29.92 at the latter.

Mixed load is forecast for the Midwest markets by the midweek. The PJM AEP region may note highs of 14,601 MW on Tuesday and 14,372 MW on Wednesday, while demand in the PJM ComEd region should near peaks of 11,124 MW on Tuesday and 11,355 MW the following day.

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, natural gas and coal index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities Pages.