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Texas, US power prices rally as brutal cold snap continues

Highlights

ERCOT real-time package reaches all-time record high

Freezing temperatures forecast to continue for much of the country

New York — A series of prolonged wintry weather events have put a lot of upward pressure on the wholesale electricity prices across all US markets in the week ended Feb. 12.

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As arctic air mass continues to blanket much of the central US, the US National Weather Service has issued multiple severe weather notices. Widespread wind chills warnings and advisories are extended through Feb. 14 and likely into the next week for much of the Upper Midwest and Midcontinent, as well as some areas in the Northwest and northern Texas. Daily temperatures across some of the locations will range between 30 to 40 degrees below average, according to the NWS. Eastern PJM, Northwest and much of Texas are also under winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories.

Texas

ERCOT next-day prices reached record highs on the Intercontinental Exchange as temperatures throughout Texas were forecast to tumble double digits on Feb. 15. Dallas temperatures were forecast to drop to 8 degrees Fahrenheit, and Houston was forecast down to 34 F, according to CustomWeather.

The brutally cold temperatures also affected wind supply in ERCOT, generation for Feb. 15 was forecast to tumble down 52.5% to 27.8 GWh of generation as cold temperatures impacted wind turbines. DeAnn Walker, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said at a meeting on Feb. 11 that there were some "issues with some gas generation plants being curtailed" and that "wind turbines are all frozen," further placing upward pressure on already sky-high prices.

ERCOT North Hub real-time next-day Feb. 15 on-peak power prices skyrocketed to trade above $3000, up from its previous settlement of $325/MWh. Next-day prices broke high records, and they had not seen similar four-digit prices since Aug. 15 2019, when prices settled around $1848/MWh.

ERCOT North Hub real-time balance-of-the-week for Feb. 16 through Feb. 19 surged to top $1500/MWh, and the balance-of-the-month off-peak package for Feb. 16 through Feb. 28 climbed about $499.75 to trade at $650/MWh.

Central

In the Midcontinent ISO, Indiana Hub on-peak jumped to its highest price since January 2019 to trade above $100/MWh. Bal-of the-week also rallied to price on par with the next-day flow package. As polar vortex continues to impact the region, the February-to-date average day-ahead price jumped almost 70% month on month and nearly doubled year on year. MISO demand forecast for Feb. 15 is the strongest since August 2020 at 98.63 GW.

As of Feb. 12, MISO is declaring conservative operations due to extremely cold temperatures and generator fuel supply risks through Feb. 16. All transmission and generation maintenance will be suspended in the affected areas, and all outages plans should be reviewed, according to the most recent grid operator's notice.

In PJM, AD Hub on-peak traded in the upper $70/MWh, rising double digits day on day. PJM West Hub also rose to trade in the mid-$60s/MWh. Power demand was forecast to begin retreating slightly in the upcoming days, however, it was still expected to remain relatively strong.

West

West power prices surged to the triple digits, the highest prices of the year so far, as a Pacific storm system was forecast to hit the Pacific Northwest to generate heavy snow and ice accumulations from Portland to Seattle. Mid-Columbia on-peak for Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 delivery boosted about $116.25 to trade at $155/MWh, and the off-peak package hiked about $113.50 to trade around $146.75/MWh.

California packages for Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 rose, with SP15 on-peak up about $117/MWh to trade around $193/MWh, and NP15 on-peak climbing $32.75 to trade around $106.75/MWh. California Independent System Operator peakload demand supported the rally in prices, with forecast demand for Feb. 15 up 1.9% to 26.7 GW.

Southwest packages saw price increments in the $200s/MWh across the board also as the weather service forecast wind chills between -10 and -25 degrees common across eastern New Mexico. Palo Verde on-peak priced around $270.25/MWh, and Four Corners on-peak traded at $314/MWh.

Northeast

Power packages in the ISO New England and NYISO were more mixed in Feb. 12 trading. Mass Hub on-peak tumbled from its recent highs to trade in the mid-$70s/MWh. Bal-of-the-week, in contrast, rose $3 to price at $87.50/MWh.

The locational marginal prices in the New York Independent System Operator were also rangebound, with Zone G adding about $2.50 to trade around $91.25/MWh and Zone J NYC falling about $7 to $94.50/MWh. The corresponding off-peak packages each rose about $5.50 to trade in the mid-$70s/MWh. Despite some of the declines, regional power prices in both ISOs remained elevated.

Unlike the rest of the country, the US Northeast is set to experience more settled weather, with high temperatures in Boston and New York City forecast to slightly increase to the low 30s on Feb. 15 with moderate chances of snow and rain, according to the weather service.