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US power dailies steer lower as load weakens ahead of holiday

Power prices across the U.S. shifted lower Wednesday, March 28, in line with natural gas prices and load outlooks at most locations.

In natural gas action, the new front-month May contract ended its first day in the lead position with losses, declining 1.6 cents to $2.698/MMBtu following prior-day gains.

In nuclear supply, total U.S. output ticked up to 85.47% by early March 28, but another two reactors are expected to shut in the coming days.

On the demand side, load outlooks for the latter part of the workweek are mixed but with an overall flat to lower tenor.

East dailies decline in tandem with demand

Power prices in the eastern U.S. turned lower midweek as load forecasts failed to offer much incentive to buy.

In the Northeast, New England Mass hub dailies were pegged in the upper $20s, down about $3 on the day, while PJM West in the mid-Atlantic saw next-day action in the low $30s, down less than $1 on the day.

Day-ahead markets also declined, with Mass hub off almost $3 to an average of $30.29 and New York Zone J down almost $2 at $34.74. Other New York markets held firm, with Zone A and Zone G up less than $1 to averages at $25.54 and $28.81, respectively.

Demand in New England is expected to hit 14,700 MW on Thursday, off about 400 MW on the day, while load in New York could peak at 17,683 MW on Thursday, off close to 200 MW.

In the mid-Atlantic, demand in the PJM Western region is forecast to reach 47,597 MW on Thursday, about 1,000 MW below Wednesday's anticipated high, while PJM Mid-Atlantic load is projected to crest at 31,589 MW on Thursday, down more than 2,000 MW on the day.

Midwest prices hold flat amid mixed load forecast

Power prices in the Midwest were mostly steady Wednesday as mixed load forecasts failed to offer much guidance.

In next-day action, MISO Indiana saw the most action with trades in the low $30s, up less than $1 on the day, while day-ahead markets at PJM declined. DAMs averaged $31.64 at the AEP-Dayton hub and $29.63 at the Northern Illinois market.

Demand in the PJM AEP region is called to reach 14,864 MW on Thursday, about 350 MW below Wednesday's projected peak, while load in PJM ComEd is forecast to top out at 11,359 MW on Thursday, up close to 100 MW on the day.

Texas markets slump despite higher load forecasts

An expected increase in demand in the second half of the workweek failed to inspire gains at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Wednesday.

Next-day markets at ERCOT North were pegged in the high $20s, off $1 to $2 on the day, while day-ahead markets moved mostly in step with dailies to average $27.57 at ERCOT North, $31.08 at ERCOT Houston, $28.52 at ERCOT South and $26.51 at ERCOT West.

Demand in ERCOT is called to peak near 43,087 MW on Thursday, which is about 2,700 MW above Wednesday's expected peak.

West markets slump in pre-holiday schedule revision

With trades in the western U.S. being done for delivery on both Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31, deals were aimed lower, reflecting the typical step lower in demand, especially during a holiday weekend. Markets in the region are closed March 30 in observance of Good Friday.

In the Northwest, improving hydropower supplies helped depress prices into the teens, with deals at the California/Oregon Border hub tumbling almost $5 to the high teens, cutting its premium to Mid-Columbia to just $1.

Farther south, Mead was flat in the low $20s while Palo Verde slipped $1 to an index just above $20. In California, South Path-15 was pegged in the high teens and low $20s, down almost $4 on average.

California demand is forecast to touch a high near 28,732 MW on Thursday, about 600 MW above Wednesday's forecast high, however, load will then tumble into the Easter weekend.

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.