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US power markets trade mixed with choppy load forecasts

Mixed but mostly muted demand forecasts led U.S. power dailies on a choppy course Tuesday, March 28, as natural gas prices offered little additional guidance.

Reclaiming losses posted in the prior session, April natural gas futures recovered some ground Tuesday ahead of the contract's expiration at the close of business on Wednesday, ending the Tuesday session 4.4 cents higher at $3.096/MMBtu.

Reflecting futures trade, spot gas markets were mixed as well Tuesday but with gains and losses at most markets being contained to less than 10 cents.

East markets unwind with spot gas prices

Finding little support from mixed load forecasts, power prices in the eastern U.S. steered slightly lower Tuesday despite higher spot gas markets.

In the Northeast, NEPOOL-Mass saw next-day power change hands on either side of $30, down close to $3 on the day, while farther south, PJM West saw next-day trade in the low $30s, down less than $1 on the day.

Day-ahead markets also peeled lower, with Mass hub showing the biggest drop of almost $6 to an average below $27. New York DAMs were down less than $1 on the day to $28.11 at Zone A, $31.43 at Zone G and $32.10 at Zone J.

Spot gas markets managed gains of 10 cents or less; however, load offered minimal counter support to the gas losses. Peak demand in New England is expected to fall about 500 MW to near 15,080 MW on Wednesday, while peak load in New York is projected to hold steady at just above 18,000 MW through midweek. Farther south, PJM Western region load should rise about 500 MW to peak near 47,865 MW on Wednesday, while PJM Mid-Atlantic demand is seen holding steady at a peak near 31,160 MW on Wednesday.

Midwest values drift lower in thin trade

Defying regional load outlooks and small gains at spot gas markets, power prices in the Midwest drifted lower Tuesday but with volume remaining overall thin amid moderating weather conditions.

MISO Indiana hub saw most of the day's activity with a tight range of trade in the low $30s, down less than $2 on the day.

Demand in the PJM AEP region is forecast to rise close to 400 MW to a high near 15,157 MW on Wednesday, while load in PJM ComEd is called to reach 11,440 MW at midweek, overall steady to Tuesday's projected peak.

ERCOT dailies step higher despite retreating demand

The price of next-day power in Texas stepped higher Tuesday despite sagging demand forecasts and lower natural gas prices.

ERCOT North saw next-day power trade in the low to mid-$20s, up $2 to $3 on the day, despite losses at the day-ahead markets, including a near $12 loss at ERCOT Houston, which averaged $39.24. ERCOT North posted a gain of less than $1 but was still one of the lowest priced at $23.45. ERCOT South was down $1.36 at $27.61, and ERCOT West was down $2.26 at $19.63.

Helping to keep gains in check, ERCOT demand could top out at 44,908 MW on Wednesday, down more than 3,000 MW on the day.

West power markets mixed amid sagging gas prices

Power markets in the western U.S. moved in mixed directions Tuesday as load forecasts point higher but natural gas prices steered lower.

In the Northwest, Mid-Columbia prices continued to recover, posting a gain of more than $1 to an index near $10, while COB eased modestly to average in the mid- to upper teens.

Farther south, South Path-15 in southern California saw next-day trades in the low $20s, down close to $1 on the day, while deals at Palo Verde moved almost $3 higher to an average atop $20.

The California ISO forecasts load will touch a high near 28,664 MW on Wednesday, up almost 800 MW on the day.

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.