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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for March 2016  |  Release Date: May 25, 2016  |  Next Release Date: June 23, 2016

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Regional Wholesale Markets: March 2016

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

March is typically the beginning of the spring "shoulder season", when a transition to milder weather results in lower energy demand and in many cases, lower prices when compared to the winter months. This March was a bit of an extreme version of that scenario, as much warmer-than-normal weather across the entire continental U.S. followed the warmest winter on record in the lower-48 states. This led to wholesale electricity and natural gas prices and electricity system daily peak demand levels that were at or near the bottom of the yearly ranges in their respective regions.

Wholesale electricity prices were highest in the Northeast, peaking at just under $37/MWh in both New England (ISONE) and New York City (NYISO). Prices were lowest in the Northwest (Mid-C) with a monthly peak of just over $17/MWh. New rolling 12-month low daily peak prices were set in Louisiana (into Entergy), the Southwest (Palo Verde), Northern California (CAISO), and the Northwest (Mid-C). Prices in New York City (NYISO) were just two cents off 12-month lows.

Wholesale natural gas prices were highest in New England, reaching $4.50/MMBtu in the Boston area (Algonquin), although this was a far cry from high prices recorded in previous years. The next highest peak price occurred in Northern California (PG&E Citygate) at just over $2/MMBtu and then in New York City (Transco Z6 NY) at exactly $2/MMBtu. New rolling 12-month low daily peak prices were set at all points except New England (Algonquin), New York City (Transco Z6 NY, missing the low by just a half-cent), and the Mid-Atlantic (Tetco M-3).

Electricity system daily peak demand


Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand in March reflected the warmer-than-normal weather in this early shoulder season month. That is, demand remained on the lower end of the 12-month range across all regions. New rolling 12-month lows were set in the Midwest (MISO), Southern Company, and Tucson Electric, with lows nearly set in New York State (NYISO), the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), Texas (ERCOT), and California (CAISO). The highest relative daily peak demand, and that phrase is being used loosely this month, occurred in the Northwest, where Bonneville Power Administration's March 17 peak of 8,065 megawatts was just under 70% of its all-time peak.

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