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US power markets mixed despite rising gas prices

Next-day power prices across the U.S. were mixed Tuesday, April 4, as prices at some locations ignored increasing spot gas prices and mixed to higher midweek load forecasts.

After opening the workweek with losses, the front-month May contract extended early gains and closed the day up 16.5 cents at $3.293/MMBtu. Following the increase in futures, spot natural gas markets also moved higher on the session.

According to a forecast from AccuWeather.com, a major storm bringing heavy rain, strong winds and snow may go across the northeastern U.S. during the second half of the week.

On the supply side, following the loss of Entergy Corp.'s Grand Gulf 1 in Mississippi, total U.S. nuclear plant availability fell to 78.39% early April 4.

Northwest, Calif. dailies firm; Southwest values ease

Excluding deals done in the Southwest, trading activity in the West was biased higher on Tuesday owing to expectations of rising Wednesday demand and higher spot gas prices.

In the Northwest, on-peak trades added $5 and $6 from Monday and were done in the high teens to low $20s at Mid-Columbia and the low $20s at COB. In California, heavy-load deals at South Path-15 added less than $1 from Monday and ranged in the mid-$20s. In the Southwest, power values eased by less than $1 and were exchanged in the low $20s at Palo Verde and the mid-$20s at Mead.

Demand in California is poised to touch highs of 28,233 MW on Tuesday and 28,459 MW on Wednesday.

East dailies slip amid mixed demand, gas gains

Power values in the East took a few steps back Tuesday as elevated spot gas prices and some support from mixed load forecasts failed to inspire gains.

In next-day trading, deals at NEPOOL-Mass and PJM West slipped by $2 to $3 from Monday and were done in the high $30s at the former hub and in the low $30s at the latter.

Northeastern day-ahead markets also moved mixed to predominantly lower. Losses of $2 to $4 were noted at NEPOOL-Mass, New York Zone G and New York Zone J with each hub averaging $38.41, $35.60 and $39.15, respectively. On the other hand, DAMs at New York Zone A added around $2 and averaged $29.02.

Load in the Northeast is set to fall as demand in New England may run up to 15,500 MW on Tuesday and 15,000 MW on Wednesday while New York load should top out at 17,870 MW on Tuesday and 17,758 MW on Wednesday.

Conversely, demand forecasts in the mid-Atlantic are aimed higher. Load in the PJM Mid-Atlantic region could crest at 30,659 MW on Tuesday and 30,694 MW on Wednesday while demand in the PJM Western region may see peaks of 46,990 MW on Tuesday and 47,396 MW on Wednesday.

ERCOT DAMs mixed ahead of midweek

Texas day-ahead markets diverged Tuesday as forecasts for subdued midweek demand clashed with an increase in spot gas prices.

DAM deals at ERCOT Houston fell more than $10 and averaged $29.02 while trades at ERCOT South shed roughly $6 and averaged $25.89. Day-ahead power at ERCOT North added less than $1 from Monday and averaged $22.11 while ERCOT West saw transactions rise by about $5 to average $21.51.

Load in ERCOT is expected to reach peaks of 45,932 MW on Tuesday and 38,783 MW on Wednesday.

Midwest DAMs slip despite fundamental boost

Day-ahead markets in the Midwest faltered Tuesday despite outlooks of strong Wednesday demand and higher spot gas prices.

Day-ahead deals at PJM AEP-Dayton and PJM Northern Illinois fell by $1 to $2 from Monday to averages of $31.34 and $36.30, respectively.

The PJM AEP region should see highs of 14,563 MW on Tuesday and 14,578 MW on Wednesday while the PJM ComEd region should see demand hit peaks of 11,295 MW on Tuesday and 11,735 MW on Wednesday.

MISO declared a Maximum Generation Alert for the South Region areas of CLEC, EAI, EES, EMBA, LAFA, LAGN, LEPA and SME effective April 4 from 3 to 10 p.m. ET due to "Forced Generation and Transmission outages."

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.