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New England power prices hit November record low

Record low energy usage contributed to ISO New England Inc. having the lowest average wholesale electricity price for any November since 2000 and the sixth-lowest monthly average price overall, the independent system operator reported Dec. 21.

ISO New England reported the November average wholesale electricity price as $24.30/MWh, compared with $22.72/MWh in October and $26.12/MWh in November 2015, it said in an item posted on its website.

Eight of the 10 months with the lowest average wholesale power prices since 2005 occurred in 2015 and 2016. Five of the lowest prices were in 2016, including the lowest, $17.20/MWh, in March.

As for demand, the six-state New England region consumed 9.37 TWh this November, compared with 9.45 TWh in November 2015. In October, electricity demand totaled 9.32 TWh, which was the fourth-lowest total. April 2016 saw the lowest recorded monthly demand at just over 9 TWh.

At an average of about $2.36/MMBtu, low natural gas prices contributed to wholesale electricity price weakness. This November's price represented a drop of more than 20% from the November 2015 average of $3.31/MMBtu, but an increase of more than 16% from the October average of $2.26/MMBtu.

New England had about 13% more heating degree days this November compared with November 2015, but this November's number was about 7% less than the November average for New England.

Natural gas-fired generation supplied about 44% of ISO New England's power, followed by nuclear power with 37%, 11% from renewable sources and 6% from hydroelectric generators.

Mark Watson is a reporter for S&P Global Platts which, like S&P Global Market Intelligence, is a division of S&P Global Inc.