Next-day power prices were generally higher Wednesday, Dec. 20, in light pre-Christmas holiday activity, as traders looked to mostly stronger load forecasts.
Natural gas markets, meantime, were predominantly lower Wednesday. Stumbling 5.3 cents in the prior session, NYMEX January 2018 natural gas futures extended to the downside Wednesday, settling at $2.637/MMBtu, down 5.5 cents on profit taking ahead of the Thursday release of the latest round of storage data.
The report to be released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration is expected to show a triple-digit pull for the week ended Dec. 15, as colder weather in many major consuming regions likely drove demand higher. An average 173-Bcf pull is anticipated, which will compare to the 200-Bcf year-ago withdrawal and the 125-Bcf five-year average pull.
In step with the ongoing losses in the futures arena, natural gas prices at most major consuming hubs faltered on the day.
New England power prices advance despite bullish fundamentals
Daily power prices in the Northeast advanced sharply Wednesday, shrugging off softer load outlooks and mixed regional gas values. At the NEPOOL-Mass Hub in New England, peak power traded in the upper $70s to low $80s, up some $9-$10 on the day.
Day-ahead markets for Thursday were also aimed higher in the Northeast, posting an average at $85.15 at NEPOOL-Mass, jumping $20 on the session. DAM prices came in at $32.04 at New York's Zone A, $40.16 at Zone G and $40.61 at Zone J, up $5-$6.
Spot natural gas values at major consuming hubs in the East were higher. Cash gas at Tetco-M3 was pegged at an average below $2.80/MMBtu, increasing about 15 cents. Product at Transco Zone-6 New York was priced near $3.40/MMBtu, gaining 30 cents or so.
Load on the New England grid is expected to peak at 18,100 MW on Thursday, up 300 MW from Wednesday, while demand in New York is likely to reach 21,000 MW on Thursday, down 1,000 MW from Wednesday.
In the mid-Atlantic, demand at the PJM Western region is seen cresting at 55,665 MW on Thursday, down about 400 MW from midweek. Load in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region is anticipated to top out at 38,760 MW on Thursday, rising 1,800 MW from Wednesday.
Most West Coast power prices swing higher despite altered packages
Most West Coast power markets shifted higher in the Wednesday session, with an expected uptick in demand and gains at some spot gas hubs offering upside support. To account for the upcoming weekend and the closure of the market Dec. 25 for Christmas, power deals were booked for Thursday-Friday delivery on the West Coast at midweek.
In California, South Path-15 heavy-load power was marked in the upper $40s, rising $5 on the session.
According to the California ISO, demand in the Golden State is seen reaching 31,500 MW on Thursday, up more than 700 MW from Wednesday.
California-Oregon Border heavy-load power was assessed in the mid- to high $30s, gaining about $1. Light-load power parcels at the market ran in the high $20s to low $30s. Heavy-load power at Mid-Columbia was eyed in the high $20s to upper $30s, down $2 on the day.
In the Southwest, heavy-load power at Palo Verde was eyed in the upper $20s to low $30s, rising about $2-$3. Heavy-load power deals at Mead ran in the low $30s, little changed on the session.
West Coast spot gas prices chopped around. Spot gas at the SoCal Border came in around $3.50/MMBtu, advancing about 40 cents. Product at PG&E City Gate traded at an index near $2.90/MMBtu, down about 5 cents.
Texas day-ahead power prices trend mixed
Power markets in Texas were mixed during the midweek session. According to the ERCOT grid operator, DAM prices for Thursday on average, coming in at $34.83 at ERCOT West, $20.72 at ERCOT North, $21.70 at ERCOT South and $22.06 at ERCOT Houston.
Spot gas markets across the region trickled lower. Product for Thursday flow at the Henry Hub in Louisiana saw an average at $2.70/MMBtu, easing about 5 cents.
Texas load is seen peaking at 41,500 MW on Thursday, rising 1,500 MW from Wednesday.
Midwest power markets see light midweek trading
Midwest power markets once again saw light trading Wednesday, against a backdrop of lackluster demand outlooks across the region.
PJM AEP region demand is seen cresting at 18,100 MW on Thursday, up 900 MW or so from Wednesday, while load in the PJM ComEd region could reach 13,310 MW on Thursday, rising about 200 MW from Wednesday.
In the Midwest, spot natural gas prices eased. At the Chicago market, gas was priced around $2.65/MMBtu, decreasing about 10 cents.
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 index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities Pages.