Next-day power values across the U.S. held an upsidebias Tuesday, March 29, as forecasts implying mixed midweek load werecounterbalanced by an upswing in spot natural gas prices.
At the natural gas futures arena, after between gains and lossesahead of the March 29 open, the front-month April contract expired at$1.903/MMBtu, up 5.5 cents. The soon-to-be-front-month May contract closed theday at $1.981/MMBtu, adding 4.5 cents on the session. Following gains infutures, spot natural gas markets continued to tick higher with only deals atTransco Zone 6 New York defying the trend.
In other supply, the unexpected loss of 's ColumbiaGenerating Station in Washington and the planned outage of 's Turkey Point 4in Florida sent total U.S. nuclearplant availability lower early March 29 to 84.82%, down from 85.90%on March 28 and also below the 85.18% recorded on the same day a year ago.Working to counterbalance the downtick was increased generation at a handful ofother units across the country.
In near-term weather, AccuWeather.com notes that "Colderair will continue to plunge across the western United States and set the stagefor heavy snow and blizzard conditions through early Wednesday."
Westmarkets recover with fundamental backing
Price activity in the West regained some upsidemomentum Tuesday, with increases at most hubs fueled by expectations of higherWednesday demand and support from climbing spot natural gas prices.
In California, power packages saw an increase of $3 to$4 with deals at North Path-15 done in the low $20s while trades at SouthPath-15 were heard in the high teens and low $20s. Hubs in the Northwestfollowed suit, as dailies added $2 to $3 from Monday with Mid-Columbia bids andoffers pegged in the mid- to high teens while transactions at COB seen in thehigh teens. Major markets in the Southwest continued the trend, with Palo Verdeposting a daily gain of about a dollar in the high teens.
Spot gas markets moved away from Monday's mixedshowing and supported dailies. SoCal Border saw deals adding around 9 centsfrom Monday to average above $1.65/MMBtu, while trades at Malin gained close to5 cents on the session and also averaged above $1.65/MMBtu. Transactions atPG&E Citygates were a cent higher from Monday and averaged close to$1.90/MMBtu.
CAISO projects Wednesday load to peak at 28,291 MW, upmore than 400 MW from Tuesday.
ERCOTmarkets notch gains with stronger demand, rising gas
Power markets in Texas took a few steps forwardTuesday, with dailies inspired by forecasts calling for higher midweek demandand support from ongoing gains in spot natural gas prices.
ERCOT forecasts robust midweek demand, with Wednesdayload potentially running up to 42,296 MW, climbing close to 2,500 MW fromTuesday's projected peak. Next-deals at ERCOT North responded to higher demandby adding more than $2 on the session in the high teens and low $20s.
Day-ahead markets mirrored next-day moves and notchedgains as well, with most hubs adding $3 to $4 from Monday to post averages of$19.92 at ERCOT Houston, $19.54 at ERCOT North, $19.63 at ERCOT South and$19.04 at ERCOT West.
Spot gas markets moved higher again, with El PasoPermian and the Henry Hub posting a premium of about 3 cents to rise toaverages close to $1.60/MMBtu and above $1.75/MMBtu, respectively.
Eastdailies mixed with jumbled fundamentals
Power trading activity in the East was varied Tuesday,as dailies sought direction in the midst of predominantly lower midweek loadforecasts and mostly higher spot natural gas prices.
Next-day trading at NEPOOL-Mass was seen in themid-$20s, up from a prior day index of $22.00, while deals at PJM West slippedwith demand and lost more than $2 in the high $20s.
Day-ahead markets mostly defied slumping loadoutlooks, with DAM transactions at New York Zone A climbing by about $8 toaverage $37.75, while DAM deals at New York Zone G and New York Zone J wereabout a dollar higher on the session to post averages of $23.16 and $23.75,respectively. DAM trades at NEPOOL-Mass ran the other way and lost roughly $2to average $22.10.
Supporting power packages was an ongoing uptick atmost spot gas markets. Gas transactions at Algonquin Citygates climbed morethan 20 cents from Monday to an average above $1.75/MMBtu, while deals atTETCO-M3 were about 3 cents higher from Monday and averaged close to$1.40/MMBtu. Gas trades at Transco Zone 6 New York tumbled close to 10 cents onthe session and averaged below $1.50/MMBtu.
Demand in the Northeast is softer ahead of themidweek, with load in New England possibly reaching 15,060 MW on Wednesday,down 510 MW from Tuesday, while demand in New York may see a midweek high at17,791 MW, shedding more than 900 MW from the day prior.
Mid-Atlantic load outlooks are mixed, with the PJMMid-Atlantic region forecasting a Wednesday high at 31,795 MW, up roughly 700MW from Tuesday, while demand in the PJM Western region could crest at 48,086MW on Wednesday, slipping about 300 MW from the previous day.
Midwestdailies supported by gas ahead of midweek
Power packages in the Midwest lost some value Tuesday,with dailies pressured by forecasts suggesting varied demand but with supportcoming from a continuing uptick in spot natural gas prices. PJM AEP-Dayton sawthe bulk of the session's action, with power deals heard in the high $20s,falling from a Monday index of $37.50.
PJM regions in the Midwest anticipate mixed midweekload, with peak demand in the PJM AEP region possibly hitting 15,979 MW onWednesday, up by roughly 200 MW from Tuesday, while load in the PJM ComEdregion may top out at 10,903 MW on Wednesday slipping about 200 MW from the dayprior.
Spot gas markets favored the upside and gave dailies aboost. Gas deals at Chicago Citygates and NNG Demarc were 1 cent to 2 centshigher from Monday and averaged above $1.80/MMBtu and more than $1.70/MMBtu,respectively.
Market prices and included industry data are currentas of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailedmarket data, including power,natural gas andcoal index prices, as well asforwards andfutures, visit our Commodities Pages.