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Eastern US power prices continue to rise on soaring gas market


A second day of spikes in spot natural gas prices in the eastern US continued to boost power prices in New England, New York and the Mid-Atlantic Wednesday.

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Although expected peak loads across the populous swath of the Eastern Seaboard were high and forecast temperatures were far below normal, they were mostly below levels seen when a polar vortex brought the coldest weather in 20 years to the same area earlier in January.

Next-day natural gas prices were well above normal. In New England, Algonquin city-gate traded between $75 and $93/MMBtu on the IntercontinentalExchange, up from about $55.54/MMBtu on Tuesday.

In New York, Transco Zone 6 New York next-day gas traded at $120/MMBtu on ICE, compared with $123.81/MMBtu on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, next-day gas at Texas Eastern M-3 traded between $85 and $98.50/MMBtu on ICE, compared with about $72.58/MMBtu on Tuesday.

Next-day gas at those three hubs was trading around $10 to $11/MMBtu on January 17.

Around 10 am EST (1500 GMT) Wednesday, average real-time prices in the ISO New England footprint were in the upper $300s/MWh, up from the low $190s about the same time on Tuesday.

The ISO's clearing price at Mass Hub for Wednesday was $221.75/MWh. Mass Hub day-ahead on-peak futures for Thursday delivery were bid at $330 and offered at $400/MWh on ICE, up from $317.50.

ISO New England expects load in its footprint to peak at 21,710 MW on Wednesday and at 22,050 MW Thursday, compared with 21,231 MW on January 7 and 20,713 MW on January 8 at the height of the month's first cold snap. ISO-NE's all time winter peak of 22,818 MW was set on January 15, 2004.

Through Thursday, day-time high temperatures were forecast as low as 0 degrees in Burlington, Vermont, and as high as 19 in Hartford, Connecticut. Normal highs for this week in New England range from the upper 20s to about 35, according to CustomWeather.

In New York, average real-time prices were in the upper $280s/MWh around 10 am EST. Zone G day-ahead on-peak futures for Thursday delivery traded between $405 and $410/MWh on ICE, compared with about $306.25 for the day before. The ISO's clearing price at Zone G for Tuesday was $201.87/MWh. Zone G equates to the Hudson Valley.

NYISO expects Wednesday peak load to reach 25,200 MW and 24,092 MW on Thursday, compared with a record winter peak of 25,738 MW on January 7 and 23,197 MW on January 8.

Day-time highs across New York through Thursday were as low as 8 degrees in Rochester and as high as 21 in New York City. Normal highs for this week range from 31 to 39, according to CustomWeather.

In the Mid-Atlantic, real-time prices in the PJM Interconnection footprint were as high as about $916/MWh in the Dominion Zone and $869/MWh in the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. Zone. In that zone, both reactors at the 1,770-MW Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant were offline Wednesday due to a sudden power loss.

PJM West Hub day-ahead on-peak futures for Thursday delivery traded between $375 and $439/MWh, compared with $417.50 the day before. PJM's clearing price at PJM West for Tuesday was $302.91.

PJM forecast peak load for Wednesday at 135,458 MW and for Thursday at 132,431 MW. The winter peak record for PJM's footprint was posted on January 7 at more than 141,000 MW.

Day-time highs in the PJM footprint through Thursday were as low as 6 degrees in Chicago and as high as 26 in Baltimore. Normal highs for this week are 31 to 41, according to CustomWeather.

With the weather, each of the ISOs had issued notices on cold weather and/or barring unforced generation outages.

--Martin Coyne,
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,