Lower spot gas prices and mixed load forecasts helped keep next-day markets tethered to the downside Wednesday, Oct. 18.
In natural gas futures trading, the front-month November contract extended early losses and closed the midweek session down 10.8 cents at $2.854/MMBtu. Likewise, most spot natural gas markets floundered and failed to provide power dailies with support.
Following increased output at two reactors, total U.S. nuclear plant availability rose to 87.00% by early Oct. 18.
West markets retreat with demand forecasts, spot gas losses
Outlooks for sluggish Thursday demand and a drop in regional spot gas prices worked to depress power markets in the West on Wednesday.
The California ISO is calling for demand to run up to 32,061 MW on Wednesday and 30,317 MW on Thursday. Bogged down by load, on-peak trades at South Path-15 fell roughly $15 to the low $40s.
In the Southwest, heavy-load transactions were down $3 to $6 and ranged in the low to mid-$40s at Palo Verde and the low $40s at Mead. Power prices in the Northwest fared no better, with Mid-Columbia deals shedding about $3 in the mid- to high $20s while the California-Oregon Border hub saw trades slip by almost $8 and span the mid- to high $30s.
East values sag amid lackluster fundamentals
Mostly lower load forecasts and softer spot gas prices provided no support to next-day markets in the East on Wednesday.
At next-day markets, power prices at the New England Mass hub retreated by about $3 in the low $30s while PJM West trades were down roughly a dollar in the high $20s.
At day-ahead markets, the Mass hub, New York Zone A, New York Zone G and New York Zone J saw deals fall almost $2 to averages of $34.29, $25.11, $29.36 and $34.35, respectively.
Demand in the Northeast is expected to fall by the latter part of the workweek. Load in New England may top 14,950 MW on Wednesday and 14,850 MW on Thursday, while demand in New York should crest at 18,225 MW on Wednesday and 18,034 MW on Thursday.
On the other hand, varied demand may be in store for the mid-Atlantic. The PJM Mid-Atlantic region should see load reach 30,246 MW on Wednesday and 30,822 MW on Thursday, while demand in the PJM Western region could touch highs of 46,691 MW on Wednesday and 46,439 MW on Thursday
Texas prices steady with strong load forecasts
Robust Thursday demand forecasts helped keep day-ahead markets on the positive side of the ledger Wednesday but with the uptick kept in check by slack spot gas prices.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is projecting peaks of 42,956 MW on Wednesday and 46,271 MW on Thursday
Owing to load support, day-ahead markets stayed on the positive side of the ledger with ERCOT Houston trades up about $2 to average $29.50 while ERCOT North, ERCOT South and ERCOT West deals added less than a dollar and averaged $22.44, $25.80 and $22.90, respectively.
Midwest markets firm despite choppy demand, lower gas prices
Despite pressures from varied load forecasts and subdued spot gas prices, day-ahead markets in the Midwest were steady Wednesday.
Day-ahead trades at PJM AEP-Dayton were little changed from Tuesday and averaged $32.97, while PJM Northern Illinois saw deals add about $3 on the session and average $33.69.
PJM regions in the Midwest should see choppy demand, with load in the PJM AEP region potentially nearing highs of 14,799 MW on Wednesday and 14,168 MW on Thursday while demand in the PJM ComEd region should hit peaks of 11,324 MW on Wednesday and 11,342 MW on Thursday.
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