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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for December 2012  |  Release Date: Feb. 25, 2013  |  Next Release Date: Mar. 25, 2013

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Regional Wholesale Markets: December 2012

The United States has many regional wholesale electricity markets. Below we look at monthly and annual ranges of on-peak, daily wholesale prices at selected pricing locations and daily peak demand for selected electricity systems in the Nation. The range of daily prices and demand data is shown for the report month and for the year ending with the report month.

Prices and demand are shown for six Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) markets: ISO New England (ISO-NE), New York ISO (NYISO), PJM Interconnection (PJM), Midwest ISO (MISO), Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and two locations in the California ISO (CAISO). Also shown are wholesale prices at trading hubs in Louisiana (into Entergy), Southwest (Palo Verde) and Northwest (Mid-Columbia). In addition to the RTO systems, peak demand is also shown for the Southern Company, Progress Florida, Tucson Electric, and the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA). Refer to the map tabs for the locations of the electricity and natural gas pricing hubs and the electric systems for which peak demand ranges are shown.

In the second tab immediately below, we show monthly and annual ranges of on-peak, daily wholesale natural gas prices at selected pricing locations in the United States. The range of daily natural gas prices is shown for the same month and year as the electricity price range chart. Wholesale electricity prices are closely tied to wholesale natural gas prices in all but the center of the country. Therefore, one can often explain current wholesale electricity prices by looking at what is happening with natural gas prices.

Wholesale Prices

Selected wholesale electricity pricing locations

Wholesale electricity prices remained below $50/MWh for most of the country for most of December, though prices exceeded $60/MWh at a few points in New England and New York City. New England had two peaks in the month of December; one on December 6, when prices spiked to $77.48/MWh, and on December 31, when prices hit $85.78/MWh, the highest price recorded at any hub in December. The lowest prices were recorded at Mid-C, where prices fell to $22.23/MWh on December 7.

Natural gas prices were quite stable during December at most hubs, staying between $3/MMBtu and $4/MMBtu. The notable exceptions were at the Algonquin hub in New England, where prices were volatile and elevated relative to the other hubs all month, and in New York City (Transco Z6 NY) where prices spiked at the end of the month. In New England, prices peaked at $10.31/MMBtu on December 31, while on the same day NYC reached its peak of $11.03/MWh. Both prices were near to their hubs' respective 12-month highs. Prices recorded at the other hubs across the country were also very near their respective 12-month highs. Prices at Henry Hub averaged $3.34/MMBtu for the month of December, and were quite stable around that figure all month.

Electricity System Daily Peak Demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

The monthly range of daily peak-hour demand as a percentage of all-time peak demand for December 2012 compared to the annual range varied from region to region, though there wasn't much heavy demand across the electrical systems. Only Bonneville Power Administration and MISO posted monthly-high peak loads above 70 percent of their systems' all-time peak demands during the month of December. Progress Florida and The Southern Company posted 12-month low demand figures, while CAISO and Texas ERCOT showed monthly lows that were very close to their respective annual lows. Most of the systems recorded demand largely between 50 percent and 70 percent of their all-time highs for the month of December.

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