Excluding deals done at the New England Mass hub, next-day power markets floundered Wednesday, Aug. 2, as mostly subdued load forecast clashed with firmer gas prices.
In front-month gas futures, the September contract spent the midweek session in shallow negative territory and closed a scant 0.8 cent lower at $2.811/MMBtu. Reflecting variations in demand and weather, spot gas markets leaned mixed to higher and offered some power markets with support.
Owing to increased output at two reactors, total U.S. nuclear plant availability rose to 97.17% early Aug. 2.
West values stumble on demand outlooks
After posting significant gains the day prior, power prices in the West dropped Wednesday, as projections for declining demand countered flat to higher gas prices.
The biggest drops of the session were seen in the Southwest. Palo Verde deals were done in the high $70s to low $80s, down nearly $60 from Tuesday, while Mead trades were seen in the low $80s to low $90s, falling by roughly $65 from the day prior.
In California, on-peak power prices at South Path-15 ranged in the low to high $80s, down from a Tuesday index of $133.00. The California ISO is projecting load to top out at 46,576 MW on Wednesday and 44,919 MW on Thursday.
Continuing the downtrend were northwestern power markets. Mid-Columbia packages tumbled by more than $40 from Tuesday as power changed hands in the low $70s to low $130s, while values at the California-Oregon Border limited losses to about $16 with deals spanning the high $90s to the mid-$140s.
The California ISO declared Restricted Maintenance Operations on Aug. 2 from 6 a.m. PT to 10 p.m. PT, as it is expecting high loads and temperatures across the CAISO grid.
Most East dailies flounder; Mass hub values steady
Next-day power prices in the East leaned mixed to lower Wednesday amid outlooks for varied Thursday demand and a lack of support from subdued gas prices.
Noting the only gains of the session were next-day deals at the New England Mass hub, where power packages added around $2 from Tuesday and changed hands in the high $30s to low $40s. New England demand is called to reach 20,600 MW on Wednesday and 20,640 MW on Thursday. On the other hand, day-ahead deals at the Mass hub were about $6 lower and averaged $39.82.
Conversely, prices at other locations in the East took a few steps back. Losses of $2 to $4 were seen at next-day deals at New York Zone A and New York Zone G where power was traded in the mid-$40s for the former and the low $40s for the latter. New York load is projected to touch highs of 26,789 MW on Wednesday and 26,280 MW on Thursday. Following subdued load forecasts, day-ahead markets in New York shed $2 to $3 on the session and posted averages of $46.36 at New York Zone A, $39.46 at New York Zone G and $43.35 at New York Zone J.
PJM West next-day transactions were a dollar lower from Tuesday and was quoted in the mid-$30s. Demand in the PJM Western region is called to hit 69,779 MW on Wednesday and 65,996 MW on Thursday, while load in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region may peak at 46,181 MW on Wednesday and 49,286 MW the following day.
Midwest prices tick lower on declining demand forecasts
Day-ahead markets in the Midwest favored flat to lower moves Wednesday as outlooks calling for tumbling Thursday demand counterbalanced firm spot gas prices.
At day-ahead markets, PJM AEP-Dayton saw packages trade almost $3 lower from Tuesday to average at $33.56, while PJM Northern Illinois day-ahead transactions eased on the session and averaged $38.54.
Regional load outlooks are aimed lower, with the PJM AEP region possibly peaking at 19,580 MW on Thursday, down roughly 1,170 MW from Wednesday, while the PJM ComEd region could see a Thursday high of 16,433 MW, falling almost 1,550 MW from the day prior.
Texas activity muted despite fundamental support
Deals done at Texas day-ahead markets were mixed but mostly muted Wednesday as strong Thursday load forecasts and some support from flat to higher spot gas prices failed to inspire values.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects demand to crest at 56,403 MW on Wednesday and 60,941 MW on Thursday. However, day-ahead trades at ERCOT North and ERCOT West were little changed from Tuesday and averaged $32.07 and $32.13, respectively, while ERCOT Houston and ERCOT South transactions eased and averaged $32.94 and $32.69, respectively.
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