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Midwest, Mid-Atlantic power grid operators issue cold weather alerts ahead of freeze


Temperatures forecast to fall as low as minus 26 degrees

PJM West Hub balance-week trades at $105/MWh on falling temperatures

Houston — Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection and Midcontinent Independent System Operator have issued cold weather alerts spanning this week as sub-zero temperatures are forecast to sweep across the region, driving up heating demand and power prices.

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"Back-to-back cold fronts will slice through the eastern two-thirds of the country to deliver one of the coldest arctic air intrusions in recent memory, especially from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley," the US National Weather Service said. "From Tuesday through Thursday, expect frigid temperatures and bitterly cold wind chills, likely leading to widespread record lows and low maximum temperatures."

This led SPP on Monday to issue a cold weather alert for Monday through noon Friday across its central and northern regions, as high temperatures across the SPP footprint are forecast to fall as low as 8 degrees Fahrenheit, 33 degrees below seasonal normal, with lows down to minus 4 F, 26 degrees below normal, according to CustomWeather.

"At this time, forward-looking studies do not indicate any reliability or capacity concerns and SPP is not declaring Conservative Operations," SPP said in the notice.

Peakload is forecast around 35,300 MW Monday, 37,625 MW Tuesday, 39,275 MW Wednesday, 38,275 MW Thursday and 34,350 MW Friday, compared with the January 2018 peakload averaged of 35,700 MW, according to SPP data. SPP South Hub on-peak day-ahead prices were bid at $27/MWh and offered at $/37/MWh on the Intercontinental Exchange, as much as $11 above Friday's settlement. On-peak balance-of-the-week was bid in the low $30s/MWh and offered in the low $60s/MWh.

In comparison, South Hub on-peak day-ahead and real-time averaged in the low $30s/MWh last January.

Neighboring PJM issued on Monday cold weather alerts for Tuesday through Thursday across its territory as transmission and generation dispatchers are to review plans to determine if any maintenance or testing being performed on any monitoring, control or transmission/generating equipment can be deferred or canceled, according to the alerts. This is the fifth cold weather alert PJM has issued in about a week.

High temperatures across the PJM footprint are forecast to fall as low as minus 15 F, 48 degrees below seasonal normal, with lows expected down to minus 26 F, 45 degrees below normal.

PJM forecast peakload at about 114,200 MW Monday, 116,775 MW Tuesday, 135,000 MW Wednesday, 142,800 MW Thursday and 131,775 MW Friday, above the January 2018 peakload average of nearly 114,900 MW, according to PJM data. PJM West Hub on-peak day-ahead added $4.50 to trade in the mid-$30s/MWh on ICE, as Texas Eastern M-3 spot gas jumped $1.16 to around $4.365/MMBtu for Tuesday delivery on ICE.

PJM West Hub on-peak for Wednesday delivery traded at $84/MWh on ICE, for Thursday delivery at $150/MWh and for Friday delivery at $73/MWh in anticipation of prolonged freezing temperatures driving up demand.

PJM West Hub on-peak bal-week packages traded in the mid-$100s/MWh and on-peak balance-of-the-month traded in the low $120s/MWh.

By comparison, PJM West Hub on-peak day-ahead prices averaged in the mid-$70s/MWh last January, while on-peak real-time averaged in the low $80s/MWh.

PJM was exporting about 4,625 MW into MISO around 3:20 pm EST Monday, 93% above the scheduled level, as PJM was exporting around 2,100 MW into New York ISO, 23% above the scheduled level, according to PJM data.

Also, MISO pushed up the start of its cold weather alert to Monday night; it will run through Friday across its footprint with temperatures expected to reach minus 20 F.

"As the cold front moves into the footprint there is a high likelihood that the boundaries of the cold weather alert will expand or change to include parts or all of the central and south regions. MISO will update the alert as appropriate," the ISO said in the notice.

MISO forecast peakload around 89,350 MW Monday, 99,675 MW Tuesday, 101,300 MW Wednesday, 100,775 MW Thursday and 95,600 MW Friday, above the January 2018 peakload average of almost 90,575 MW, according to ISO data. Indiana Hub on-peak day-ahead traded $14.50 higher into the mid-$40s/MWh as on-peak bal-week traded in the low $70s/MWh on ICE, as Indianapolis high temperatures are forecast to fall to minus 7 F by Wednesday, 45 degrees below seasonal normal, as lows are expected to dip to minus 11 F, 33 degrees below normal.

In comparison, Indiana Hub on-peak day-ahead averaged in the low $40s/MWh last January, as on-peak real-time averaged in the mid-$40s/MWh.

In the Southeast, the Tennessee Valley Authority tweeted that "arctic cold temperatures and frozen precipitation are forecasted to impact the region this week."

Nashville low temperatures were forecast to fall to 7 F by Thursday, 24 degrees below normal, as Atlanta lows were forecast down to the low 20s by Wednesday, 13 degrees below normal.

Into Southern on-peak bal-week was bid at $40/MWh and offered at $70/MWh on ICE, while Into GTC on-peak bal-week was bid at $45/MWh and offered at $80/MWh, a nearly $50 premium to where the day-ahead was offered.

-- Kassia Micek,

-- Edited by Jennifer Pedrick,