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US daily power prices aim lower despite elevated demand forecasts

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US daily power prices aim lower despite elevated demand forecasts

Despite mostly higher midweek load forecasts, next-day power markets across the U.S. were mixed to predominantly lower Tuesday, March 20.

After opening the week with losses, the front-month April natural gas contract returned to the positive side of the ledger Tuesday and closed the session up 3.7 cents at $2.651/MMBtu.

Looking at other supply, total U.S. nuclear plant availability slipped early March 20 to 86.69%.

Supporting demand in the eastern U.S., the National Weather Service said, "Another Nor'easter will bring snow, strong winds, and coastal flooding to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Thursday."

Eastern power markets retreat even as nor'easter approaches

As the Northeast braces for another nor'easter, next-day power trading activity moved mostly lower Tuesday but with values finding support from mostly higher load forecasts.

At the next-day markets, deals at the New England Mass hub were pegged in the mid- to high $40s, down more than $8 from Monday, while New York Zone A trades were seen in the high $20s, shedding roughly a dollar from Monday. PJM West packages eased slightly and ranged in the mid-$40s to mid-$50s, while New York Zone G packages defied the trend and added about a dollar with power changing hands in the low to mid-$30s.

On the flip side, day-ahead markets in the Northeast were biased higher. DAMs at the Mass hub fell by about $5 from Monday and averaged $50.50, while in New York, day-ahead trades added $2 to $4 from Monday and averaged $31.77 at Zone A, $36.45 at Zone G and $43.40 at Zone J.

Demand in the Northeast is expected to diverge by the middle of the workweek. Load in New England may run up to 16,250 MW on Tuesday and 16,500 MW on Wednesday, while demand in New York should post peaks of 20,050 MW on Tuesday and 19,300 MW on Wednesday.

Load in the mid-Atlantic is set to rise. Demand in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region could top out at 38,811 MW on Tuesday and 39,044 MW on Wednesday, while load in the PJM Western region should crest at 53,363 MW on Tuesday and 55,794 MW on Wednesday.

Western power markets sag with lower load outlooks

Easing midweek load forecasts provided little support to western power markets Tuesday.

The California ISO is projecting peaks of 27,585 MW on Tuesday and 27,550 MW on Wednesday. Bogged down by demand, on-peak trades at South Path-15 were quoted in the high $30s, down roughly $2 from Monday.

In the Southwest, heavy-load transactions at Palo Verde and Mead shed $2 to $5 from Monday and were valued in the high teens to low $20s at the former and the low $20s at the latter. In the Northwest, power packages at Mid-Columbia eased and changed hands in the low $20s, while the California-Oregon Border hub saw power prices slip roughly a dollar and span the mid-$20s

Midwest day-ahead markets swing higher with load support

Expectations for rising midweek demand provided day-ahead markets in the Midwest with a boost Tuesday.

Day-ahead deals at the PJM AEP-Dayton hub rose close to $5 from Monday and averaged $51.05, while day-ahead trades at PJM Northern Illinois climbed roughly $10 on the session and averaged $41.69.

Looking at load, demand in the PJM AEP region may near peaks of 16,569 MW on Tuesday and 17,469 MW on Wednesday, while load in the PJM ComEd region should hit highs of 12,059 MW on Tuesday and 12,380 MW on Wednesday.

Strong load forecasts fail to lift Texas markets

Day-ahead markets in Texas sagged Tuesday as prices at most locations defied strong midweek demand forecasts.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is calling for highs of 37,498 MW on Tuesday and 38,703 MW on Wednesday. However, day-ahead markets still slipped by $2 to $4 from Monday and averaged at $22.82 at ERCOT Houston, $22.69 at ERCOT North, $22.48 at ERCOT South and $21.09 at ERCOT West.

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