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Choppy load forecasts leave US daily power markets mixed

Varied demand forecasts sent daily power prices in the U.S. in different directions Thursday, Feb. 15.

Despite reports of a 194-Bcf net withdrawal during the week ended Feb. 9, which was higher than consensus estimates, the front-month March natural gas futures contract still finished the session with a scant 0.7-cent loss at $2.580/MMBtu.

In other power supply, total U.S. nuclear plant availability slipped early Feb. 15 to 96.58%.

Looking at demand, the National Weather Service said "an arctic cold front will usher frigid temperatures into the Upper Midwest for the end of the workweek."

East dailies favor gains despite mixed demand

Power prices in the East leaned flat to ultimately higher Thursday despite outlooks for diverging Friday demand.

At next-day markets, prices at PJM West and the New England Mass hub rose by $1 to $2 from midweek as power changed hands in the low to mid-$20s at the former than the mid- to high $20s at the latter. Conversely, next-day power prices at New York Zone A eased with power exchanged in the high teens.

Mixed moves were noted at day-ahead markets in the Northeast. Deals at New York Zone G added around a dollar and averaged $25.22, while Zone J packages were flat to midweek and averaged $27.58. The New England Mass hub saw day-ahead deals shed around a dollar and average $24.29, while New York Zone A transactions eased slightly and averaged $19.06.

Varied demand is projected for the Northeast with load in New England possibly seeing a high of 15,750 MW on Thursday and Friday, while demand in New York should near 19,298 MW on Thursday and 19,226 MW on Friday.

Conversely, mid-Atlantic demand forecasts are aimed higher. Load in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region might top out at 33,127 MW on Thursday and 33,581 MW on Friday, while demand in the PJM Western region should crest at 49,886 MW on Thursday and 52,656 MW on Friday.

Western power markets move lower in revised trade

A combination of slack Friday demand and typically lower weekend load associated with next-day schedule revisions fueled a modest downtick in western U.S. power prices Thursday.

In the Northwest, power deals at Mid-Columbia fell by roughly $9 on the session and ranged in the single-digits to mid-teens. In the Southwest, Palo Verde and Mead deals spanned the low $20s with the former shedding roughly $2 from Wednesday while the latter eased on the session.

Demand in California is projected to hit peaks of 27,963 MW on Thursday and 27,359 MW on Friday.

Midwest prices supported by demand ahead of weekend

Strong Friday load forecasts gave some support to day-ahead markets in the Midwest on Thursday.

Day-ahead deals at PJM AEP-Dayton and PJM Northern Illinois rose $5 to $6 on the session and averaged $27.15 and $32.05, respectively.

Demand is set to rise towards the end of the workweek. Load in the PJM AEP region may touch peaks of 14,928 MW on Thursday and 16,128 MW on Friday, while demand in the PJM ComEd region should near highs of 12,446 MW on Thursday and 12,633 MW on Friday.

Subdued demand forecasts fail to pull down Texas markets

Lower load forecasts failed to keep down day-ahead markets in Texas on Thursday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is forecasting peaks of 39,655 MW on Thursday and 38,550 MW on Friday.

However, day-ahead trades still moved higher with ERCOT Houston, ERCOT North, ERCOT South and ERCOT West posting gains of $1 to $3 from Wednesday and averaging $22.75, $22.92, $23.22 and $22.21, respectively.

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.