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Power markets mixed as cold underpins New England dailies

Power prices for day-ahead delivery moved mixed Monday, Dec. 19, as markets throughout the central U.S. unraveled prior-week gains, and deals in New England remained elevated with the support of cold weather and pricey natural gas.

In natural gas trading, front-month futures posted a ho-hum day of trade, ending 2.3 cents lower at $3.392/MMBtu, culminating a collective 41.7-cent plunge in the past seven sessions. Spot gas markets ranged broadly, surging more than $1/MMBtu in parts of the Northeast and dropping more than 30 cents in parts of the Midwest.

New England values remain high as PJM plunges

Power markets in the East were mixed Monday, as deals in New England remained elevated and markets farther south corrected lower.

As temperatures in Boston struggle to top the freezing mark, the NEPOOL Mass hub saw next-day power trade in the low $80s, almost $15 higher than deals done ahead of the weekend. In contrast, New York Zone A saw trades in the mid-$30s and PJM West was priced in the low $40s.

Day-ahead markets saw similar values, with Mass hub valued at $74.69, well above New York Zone J at $61.96, Zone G at $60.92 and Zone A at $28.08.

Demand in New England is projected to peak at 19,000 MW on Tuesday, off 400 MW on the day, while load in New York is expected to reach 21,487 MW on Tuesday, off more than 600 MW. In the mid-Atlantic, PJM Western region demand is forecast to hit 61,850 MW on Tuesday, down more than 1,500 MW on the day, but PJM Mid-Atlantic load is seen cresting at 40,908 MW on Tuesday, rising close to 500 MW from Monday.

Gains at spot gas markets ranged from about 25 cents at Tetco M3, to close to $1.50 at Transco Zone 6 New York and more than $3 at Algon Citygate.

Midwest markets return prior-week gains

As frigid conditions in the Midwest begin to thaw to start the new workweek, power priced for Tuesday flow was on the retreat as MISO Indiana saw most of the day's activity in the low $40s, almost $20 lower than preweekend deals. PJM AEP Dayton and PJM Northern Illinois were pegged at similar levels.

Demand in the PJM AEP region is called to reach 20,254 MW on Tuesday, up more than 500 MW from Monday, while load in PJM ComEd is projected to top 14,417 MW on Tuesday, down almost 1,000 MW.

Temperatures in Chicago have been holding in the teens and single digits but are forecast to rebound above the freezing mark by midweek.

In spot gas trade, the Chicago hub was down 35 cents to an index near $3.55/MMBtu.

Milder weather sends ERCOT tumbling

Moderating weather and a decline in regional gas prices pushed power deals in ERCOT lower Monday as next-day deals at ERCOT North slumped more than $20 to an index in the low $30s.

Day-ahead markets also fell with averages pegged at $29.56 at ERCOT North, $29.68 at ERCOT West, $30.33 at ERCOT Houston and $31.39 at ERCOT South.

ERCOT load is forecast to approach 55,000 MW on Tuesday, about 3,500 MW below Monday's projected peak.

According to ERCOT meteorologist Chris Coleman, a strong cold front on Saturday brought "the coldest air since January 2015 for most of the state. Some, the coldest since the previous winter of 2014 ... but the coldest day of the next seven (and likely the remainder of 2016) was this morning's low temperatures."

West markets remain subdued despite Northwest storms

Power deals in the West remained under pressure to start the new workweek even as a parade of storms continues to assault the Northwest.

Deals at Mid-Columbia in Washington were done in the low to upper $20s, off almost $4 on the day, while COB traded in the low $30s for a gain of $1.

California markets were priced lower day on day but remained some of the highest-priced in the region with North Path-15 in the upper $30s and South Path-15 about $2 below NP-15 in the mid- to upper $20s.

In the Southwest, Palo Verde and Mead were near equal footing in the high $20s, off about $1 on the day.

CAISO demand is poised to hit 30,511 MW on Tuesday, about 900 MW below Monday's forecast high. According to a report from AccuWeather.com, "a pair of storms will create difficult travel across the northwestern United States early this week while Santa Ana winds whip across portions of Southern California."

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.