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AM Power Report: Dailies could end week varied with load outlooks

Price action for power dailies could be choppy in the week's closing session Friday, March 23, in line with diverging demand expectations coming off the weekend.

Declining 2.1 cents in the March 22 trading day, NYMEX April natural gas futures were aimed slightly lower early Friday ahead of the opening bell on light profit-taking ahead of the weekend. At 6:55 a.m. ET, the front-month contract was down just 0.8 cent to $2.609/MMBtu.

In conjunction with any sustained losses in futures and with the lower-load weekend days included in the trading product Friday, next-day natural gas prices at the major consuming hubs are likely to leak lower.

On the demand side, grid operators across the country see jumbled load at the start of the next workweek on March 26.

In the Northeast, demand in New England is expected to crest at 15,100 MW on Friday and 16,000 MW on March 26, while load in New York is projected to hit highs at 18,390 MW on Friday and 18,350 MW at the start of the next business week. Farther south, PJM Western region load should near 54,960 MW on Friday and 54,080 MW on March 26, while PJM Mid-Atlantic demand is seen peaking at 36,086 MW on Friday and 36,509 MW on March 26.

In the Midwest, demand in the PJM AEP region is forecast to see highs at 17,927 MW on Friday and 17,649 MW on March 26, while load in PJM ComEd is called to reach 11,593 MW on Friday and 11,678 MW on March 26.

In the South, Texas demand could top out at 41,903 MW on Friday and 47,616 MW at the return of the workweek.

In the West, California load could touch a high near 26,589 MW on Friday and 24,718 MW on March 24 but should find some upside support March 26, as full industrial and commercial demand rebounds at the start of the fresh business week.

In term activity, April power had a mixed showing with a dominant upside bias March 22, as stubborn cold in midrange forecasts suggested the possibility of residual heating demand despite the arrival of the spring shoulder season.

In the East, front-month power was quoted in the low to high $30s in trades about $1 stronger in New England and almost 20 cents higher at PJM West. Further along the forward curve, May power was transacted in the high $20s in New England and the low $30s at PJM West.

In the Midwest, PJM AD April rose by around $2 to the mid-$30s and PJM Northern Illinois April advanced by 20 cents to the high $20s, as MISO Indiana April bucked the broad uptrend with a roughly 90-cent decline to the low $30s. Power for May delivery was marked in the high $20s to the low $30s overall.

In the South, gains of as much as 70 cents at the ERCOT markets drove pricing for month-ahead power to the mid-$20s into the low $30s. Regional price action for May power spanned the high $20s to the low $30s.

In the West, California saw April power defy the wider uptick with a nearly 70-cent retreat to the high $20s at North Path-15 and a roughly 30-cent slump to the mid-$20s at South Path-15. A similar offering at Mid-Columbia and Palo Verde also ran against the dominant advance by shedding more than 20 cents in deals done in the high $10s and the low $20s, respectively. Power products for May were quoted in the low teens at Mid-Columbia and in the low $20s to the low $30s elsewhere in the region.

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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.