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AM Power Report: Dailies could meander with demand outlooks, gas

Pricing for day-ahead power could be choppy Wednesday, Dec. 20, as varied demand expectations for the latter part of the workweek conspire with recent volatility in natural gas futures.

Working 5.3 cents lower in the prior session, NYMEX January 2018 natural gas futures were moving higher ahead of the opening bell early Wednesday. At about 6:40 a.m. ET, the contract was up 3.7 cents to $2.729/MMBtu on short covering.

Next-day natural gas prices at most major consuming hubs are likely to be mixed at midweek, in step with the recent sideways activity in futures.

In terms of electricity demand, load projections for the latter part of the workweek are mixed.

In the Northeast, demand in New England should near 17,800 MW on Wednesday and 17,900 MW on Thursday, while load in New York is called to reach 21,048 MW on Wednesday and 21,072 MW on Thursday. Farther south, PJM Western region demand could peak at 56,261 MW on Wednesday and 55,704 MW on Thursday, while PJM Mid-Atlantic load could reach highs at 37,187 MW on Wednesday and 38,336 MW on Thursday.

In the Midwest, demand in the PJM AEP region is poised to top out at 17,271 MW on Wednesday and 18,051 MW in the latter part of the business week, while load in PJM ComEd is seen cresting at 13,327 MW on Wednesday and 13,283 MW on Thursday.

In the South, demand in Texas could touch a high near 39,824 MW on Wednesday and 41,533 MW on Thursday. In the West, load in California is projected to hit highs at 30,860 MW on Wednesday and 32,250 MW Thursday.

Along the forward curve, power values for January 2018 mostly declined Dec. 19, in line with front-month natural gas futures that unraveled on the session to ultimately drive fueling costs lower.

In the East, January 2018 power tacked on nearly $2 against the broad downtrend in transactions done in the low $70s in New England but shed almost 20 cents in deals carried out in the low $40s at PJM West. February 2018 power was marked in the high $60s in New England and in the low $40s at PJM West.

In the Midwest, month-ahead power was off by about 10 cents day on day in the high $30s at PJM AD, while a similar offering saw a 20-cent uptick to the low $30s at PJM Northern Illinois and a 60-cent increase to the mid-$30s at MISO Indiana. Power for February 2018 was quoted in the low to mid-$30s overall.

In the South, losses between $1 and $3 at the ERCOT hubs steered price action for January 2018 power to the low to high $20s. Regional pricing for February 2018 power delivery spanned the low to high $20s.

In the West, California saw prompt-month power values fall by about 60 cents to the high $30s at North Path-15 and the low $40s at South Path-15, as front-month power prices slid by 40 cents to the low $30s at Mid-Columbia and tumbled by roughly 80 cents to the high $20s at Palo Verde. Price activity for February 2018 power was pegged in the low to mid-$30s in California and in the low to mid-$20s 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.