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AM Power Report: Dailies could unravel with load prospects

Next-day power values could be pulled lower Thursday, March 22, by the anticipation of declining demand in much of the U.S. at the close of the workweek.

After sinking 3.7 cents in the prior session, NYMEX April natural gas futures were working slightly higher just after 6:50 a.m. ET Thursday, tacking on 0.9 cent to $2.647/MMBtu ahead of the midmorning release of weekly storage data from the government. Analysts are calling for an average 90-Bcf pull from storage for the week ended March 16.

Day-ahead natural gas prices could see choppy moves Thursday but will, in most cases, ultimately follow the lead of the futures market.

In terms of demand, load outlooks for the close of the workweek are varied but mostly softer, as business-related demand typically tapers off approaching the weekend break.

In the Northeast, demand in New England is projected to touch a high near 15,750 MW on Thursday and 15,300 MW on Friday, while New York load is expected to top out at 18,857 MW on Thursday and 18,505 MW on Friday. To the south, PJM Western region demand could see highs at 56,336 MW on Thursday and 55,256 MW on Friday, while load in PJM Mid-Atlantic could buck the wider decline to crest at 36,585 MW on Thursday and 36,698 MW at the end of the business week.

In the Midwest, demand in the PJM AEP region is called to reach 18,454 MW on Thursday and 18,192 MW on Friday, while PJM ComEd load should near 11,923 MW on Thursday and 11,611 MW on Friday.

In the South, load in Texas is forecast to hit highs at 40,049 MW on Thursday and 42,578 MW at the end of the workweek, also running against the broad downtrend.

In the West, demand in California is seen reaching highs at 27,507 MW on Thursday and 26,441 MW on Friday, which should add to downside momentum in next-day power pricing in the region Thursday, as traders book revised partly weekend parcels for Friday-Saturday delivery.

Along the forward curve, power prices for April were mixed March 21, as retreating front-month natural gas futures that implied declining fueling costs combined with lingering weather support.

In the East, trades for April power delivery were off 75 cents in the mid-$30s in New England and down 5 cents in the low $30s at PJM West. Power deals for May were quoted in the high $20s in New England and in the low $30s at PJM West.

In the Midwest, PJM AD April fell by more than $1 to the low $30s, as month-ahead power was lifted by 70 cents to the high $20s at PJM Northern Illinois and bolstered by roughly 80 cents to the low $30s at MISO Indiana. May power was assessed in the high $20s to the high $30s overall.

In the South, losses of 10 cents to 20 cents at the ERCOT hubs took pricing for front-month power to the mid-$20s into the low $30s. Regional price action for May power delivery ran through the high $20s into the low $30s.

In the West, California saw April power value rise by 20 cents to the high $20s into the low $30s at North Path-15 and climb by 10 cents to the mid-$20s at South Path-15. Similar products deflated by roughly 60 cents to the high $10s at Mid-Columbia but held unchanged in the low to mid-$20s at Palo Verde. May power parcels were marked in the low $10s at Mid-Columbia and in the mid-$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.