U.S. next-day power markets spent most of the Friday, Jan. 27, session mixed by outlooks calling for mostly elevated Jan. 30 demand and varied spot natural gas prices.
In the natural gas futures arena, the front-month February contract reversed reversed early losses and rolled off the board in positive territory at $3.391/MMBtu, up by a scant 0.9 cent. The upcoming front-month March contract, on the other hand, exited the workweek down 3.9 cents to $3.358/MMBtu. Owing to lower weekend demand, spot natural gas markets traded mostly lower on the session.
AccuWeather.com said that the northeastern part of the country may see a return of cold air that could trigger "a significant lake-effect snow event over the next several days." Forecasters add that "cold air will spill across the Northeast on a brisk northwesterly wind into the weekend."
East dailies rise on cold weather outlooks
Increased heating demand implied by cold weather forecasts offset pressures from mixed regional spot natural gas prices and provided next-day markets in the East with a boost on Friday.
At NEPOOL-Mass, next-day power deals added more than $10 from Thursday and were done in the low $50s, while on-peak trades at PJM West gained more than $5 and changed hands in the high $30s.
Day-ahead markets were slightly mixed despite typically lower weekend demand. DAMs at NEPOOL-Mass, New York Zone G and New York Zone J added less than $1 from Thursday and averaged $35.48, $35.76 and $35.88, respectively, while New York Zone A ran the other way and lost more than $2 to average $22.22.
Demand in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic may be off to a strong start next week. New England load is expected to near highs of 16,360 MW on Friday and 17,720 MW on Jan. 30, while New York could note peaks of 19,975 MW on Friday and 21,429 MW on Jan. 30. Peak demand in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region may reach 36,764 MW on Friday and 39,983 MW on Jan. 30, while load in the PJM Western region should top out at 56,793 MW on Friday and 59,456 MW on Jan. 30.
Northwest and Southwest markets flounder; Calif. dailies firm
With the exception of deals done in California, power prices in the West faltered Friday as declining regional spot natural gas prices countered potentially strong Jan.30 demand.
On-peak power in California saw little change from Thursday and was exchanged in the low to mid-$30s at South Path-15. Heavy-load transactions in the Northwest noted a daily loss of around $1 to $2 and spanned the low $30s at both Mid-Columbia and COB. Southwest dailies fared no better, with Mead deals falling by roughly $4 in the mid-$20s while Palo Verde trades shed almost $2 in the mid-$20s as well.
Demand in California is poised to hit highs of 29,618 MW on Friday and 27,467 MW on Saturday. However, load is expected to recover at the start of the new workweek on Jan. 30, as business-related demand tends to rebound after the weekend.
Texas values enter weekend unsupported
Trading activity in Texas saw a dearth of fundamental support Friday as next-day markets reflected projections of falling Jan. 30 demand and a downtick in regional spot natural gas prices.
The ERCOT grid operator expects load to crest at 45,717 MW on Friday and 42,345 MW on Jan. 30. Bogged down by the demand outlook, next-day deals at ERCOT North traded almost $2 lower from Thursday in the mid-$20s.
Modest losses were noted across day-ahead markets due to subdued weekend demand. Day-ahead deals at ERCOT Houston, ERCOT North, ERCOT South and ERCOT West shed less than $1 from Thursday and averaged $26.18, $25.82, $25.95 and $25.86, respectively.
Conflicting fundamentals pressure Midwest markets into the weekend
Power dailies in the Midwest spent a quiet Friday session pulled in different directions by strong Jan. 30 load forecasts and biased lower spot natural gas prices.
Regional demand outlooks are calling for elevated load to start the new workweek. The PJM AEP region may touch highs of 17,946 MW on Friday and 18,291 MW on Jan. 30, while load in the PJM ComEd region should run up to 13,098 MW on Friday and 13,337 MW on Jan. 30.
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 and coal index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities Pages.