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Steady demand, surging gas futures support US power dailies

Power dailies moved mixed but mostly higher Wednesday, Dec. 28, as flat or stronger demand expectations for the latter part of the workweek met a rallying natural gas futures market.

The January 2017 natural gas futures contract teeter-tottered in its final day of trade but exploded higher late in the day, expiring 16.9 cents higher at $3.930/MMBtu, a new two-year high. The new front-month February 2017 contract settled the day 13.2 cents higher at $3.898/MMBtu. The natural gas market will now turn its attention to the weekly storage report set for release Dec. 29 with expectations for another big withdrawal.

On the demand side, load forecasts for the latter part of the workweek are predominantly aimed higher. However, helping to cover some of the demand is a healthy supply of nuclear generation, which is currently near four-month highs.

East markets move mixed with demand outlook

Daily power markets in the eastern U.S. moved mixed Wednesday, underpinned by a firm load outlook but with tumbling spot gas prices helping to counter the support at some hubs.

In New England, next-day power at the Mass hub traded near $50, about $3 below prior-day action, as a near 50-cent drop in Algonquin spot gas helped counter the load support. In the mid-Atlantic, the PJM West hub was pegged in the low $30s, close to $3 above deals done in the prior session.

Day-ahead markets also moved mixed with Mass hub down almost $2 to an average DAM at $51.30 and New York Zone A off almost $4 to an average at $23.15. In eastern New York, however, Zone G and Zone J added more than $2 apiece to average DAMs above $50.

Demand in New England is projected to rise 400 MW to a peak at 17,800 MW on Thursday while load in New York is expected to reach 20,824 MW on Thursday, off about 100 MW. Farther south, PJM Western region demand is forecast to hit 55,372 MW on Thursday, a gain of almost 2,500 MW, while PJM Mid-Atlantic load is seen cresting at 36,709 MW on Thursday, about even to Wednesday's high.

Midwest markets hold firm with load

Next-day power markets in the Midwest held firm Wednesday amid steady or higher demand forecasts into the second half of the workweek.

While volumes remained thin overall, MISO Indiana saw most of the day's action with trades pegged in the low $30s, less than $1 higher on the day.

Peak demand in the PJM AEP region is called to hold steady at just above 16,500 MW through Thursday while load in PJM ComEd is projected to top out near 13,200 MW on Thursday, up about 550 MW on the day.

ERCOT day-ahead markets fall with flopping demand

Day-ahead deals in Texas pulled back slightly on Wednesday as easing load forecasts offered little support.

Across the region, DAMs averaged below $27, down $4 at ERCOT Houston to an average at $26.59 and down more than $2 to an average at $26.33 at ERCOT South. Already running at a regional discount, ERCOT North and ERCOT West lost less than $1 apiece to averages at $26.34 and $26.39, respectively.

ERCOT load is forecast to peak near 40,227 MW on Thursday, off almost 1,800 MW on the day.

West markets mixed as Northwest markets claw higher

Western U.S. power markets moved mixed Wednesday with gains spotted at Northwest locations.

Mid-Columbia in Washington added almost $3 to trade in the high $20s to low $30s while COB added a little less than $2, but kept a small premium to Mid-C.

However, South Path-15 in California held flat in the mid- to upper $30s and Mead and Palo Verde peeled back less than $1 with trades in the mid- to upper $20s.

CAISO demand could struggle to break 29,000 MW on Wednesday, marking a loss of about 250 MW on the 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.