Next-day power values across major U.S. markets werevaried Wednesday, March 30, with power packages trading for a loss in the Eastand Midwest but with dailies leaning flat to slightly higher in Texas and mostof the West.
At the natural gas futures complex, the newfront-month May contract spent its first session in the lead extendingscant gains andclosed the March 30 session at $1.996/MMBtu, up 1.5 cents. Likewise, spot gasmarkets mostly moved higher with only hubs in the East returning to thenegative side of the ledger.
In other supply, the full return of 's Oconee 1 in SouthCarolina and output increases at TennesseeValley Authority's Browns Ferry 3 in Alabama and 's Vogtle 2 in Georgiaworked to offset the loss of EntergyCorp.'s Grand Gulf 1 in Mississippi and curtailments at its Pilgrim1 in Massachusetts and XcelEnergy Inc.'s Prairie Island 1 in Minnesota and drove total U.S.nuclear plant availabilityhigher early March 30 to 85.03%, up from 84.82% on March 29 but still slightlybelow the 85.06% posted on the same day in 2015.
ERCOTdailies swing higher with fundamental backing
Power dailies in Texas were traded at a modest premiumWednesday as traders latched on to expectations of stronger Thursday demand andsupport coming from gains in spot natural gas markets.
Load in Texas is modestly higher, with the ERCOT gridoperator projecting peak demand to run up to 41,044 MW on Thursday, adding morethan 100 MW from Wednesday. Bolstered by load, next-day deals at ERCOT Northincreased by more than $3 and changed hands in the low to mid-$20s.
Day-ahead markets also followed demand higher, withmost hubs adding roughly $5 from Tuesday to post averages of $25.08 at ERCOTHouston, $24.64 at ERCOT North, $25.53 at ERCOT South and $24.76 at ERCOT West.
Spot gas markets extended prior-day gains andsupported power packages. Gas trades at El Paso Permian added more than 10cents from Tuesday to average around $1.70/MMBtu, while transactions at theHenry Hub noted a premium of more than 5 cents and averaged above $1.80/MMBtu.
MostWest markets post muted moves while Mead dailies flounder
Price activity a major power markets in the West,excluding deals done at Mead, saw little change Wednesday in spite ofincentives from modestly stronger load forecasts and support coming fromincreases in spot natural gas prices.
Markets in the Northwest were mixed but were littlechanged overall, with Mid-Columbia deals losing less than a dollar in the mid-to high teens while trades at COB added less than a dollar in the high teens.In California, power packages at South Path-15 were flat to Tuesday and wereexchanged in the low $20s. In the Southwest, power hubs leaned flat to lower,with Palo Verde deals steady to the day prior in the high teens while trades atMead noted a daily loss of about $3 and changed hands in the low $20s.
Supporting power parcels were gains in spot gasprices. Gas transactions at SoCal Border posted a daily gain of more than 10cents to rise to an average around $1.80/MMBtu, while trades at Malin wereabout 8 cents higher from Tuesday and averaged around $1.75/MMBtu. Deals atPG&E Citygates continued the uptick and added roughly 5 cents to average atop$1.95/MMBtu.
CAISO predicts peak Thursday demand to reach 27,732MW, up little more than 30 MW from the midweek.
Eastdailies unsupported at midweek
Next-day power markets in the East saw a dearth offundamental support Wednesday coming from forecasts suggesting slack Thursdaydemand and a downtick in spot natural gas prices.
Deals at NEPOOL-Mass and PJM West slipped by $3 to $4on the session and were done in the low $20s at the former and the mid- to high$20s at the latter.
Day-ahead markets in the Northeast were jumbled, withDAM trades at New York Zone A adding more than $5 from Tuesday to average$45.72, while DAM transactions at New York Zone J were about $3 higher fromTuesday and averaged $26.77. DAM deals at NEPOOL-Mass lost close to $3 andaveraged $19.19 while offers at New York Zone G shed less than a dollar on thesession and averaged $22.81.
Spot gas markets failed to hold on to prior-day gains,with gas trades at Algonquin Citygates posting a loss close to 50 cents fromTuesday to drop to an average around $1.30/MMBtu, while transactions atTETCO-M3 and Transco Zone 6 New York tumbled by more than 15 cents on thesession to averages around $1.20/MMBtu and below $1.30/MMBtu, respectively.
Grid operators in the Northeast and Mid-Atlanticexpect lower load, with peak demand in New England possibly touching 14,820 MWon Thursday, shedding more than 300 MW from Wednesday, while Thursday load inNew York could hit 17,703 MW, dropping more than 500 MW from midweek.
The PJM Mid-Atlantic region projects a Thursday highat 30,235 MW, plunging more than 2,300 MW from the day prior, while the PJMWestern region foresees a Thursday peak at 45,210 MW, falling more than 3,700MW from the previous day.
Midwestmarkets see losses limited by higher gas prices
Power packages for Thursday delivery in the Midwestnotched losses Wednesday, with the demand-driven downside slightly countered bysupport from ongoing gains in spot natural gas prices. Most of the session'saction was focused at PJM AEP-Dayton, where power was traded in the high $20s,shedding around $3 from Tuesday.
Midwestern PJM regions expect softer demand, with thePJM AEP region anticipating a Thursday high at 14,377 MW, down roughly 2,000 MWfrom midweek, while the PJM ComEd region sees load topping out at 10,982 MW onThursday, slipping by about 300 MW from Wednesday.
Helping to limit power parcel losses was a continuinguptick in spot natural gas prices. Gas trades at Chicago Citygates and NNGDemarc added about 10 cents from Tuesday to move to averages above $1.90/MMBtuand greater than $1.80/MMBtu, respectively.
Market prices and included industry data are currentas of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailedmarket data, including power, naturalgas and coal indexprices, as well as forwards and futures,visit our Commodities Pages.