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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for May 2015  |  Release Date: July 27, 2015  |  Next Release Date: August 25, 2015

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Regional Wholesale Markets: May 2015

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 towards the lower end of the yearly range in May despite some moderate electricity system peak demand levels. This is in large part due to sustained low, and in some regions very low, natural gas prices that are a major determinate of wholesale electricity prices. Natural gas prices set a new 12-month low in New England (Algonquin) on May 26 of $1.61/MMBtu and were even lower in the Mid-Atlantic (Tetco M-3) at $1.43/MMBtu. The highest price recorded at the ten selected hubs during the entire month was a paltry $3.06/MMBtu. As natural gas-fired generators set marginal power prices in many areas of the country much of the time, these low natural gas prices invariably lead to low electricity prices. New 12-month low wholesale electricity prices were set in the Midwest (MISO), Louisiana (into Entergy), the Southwest (Palo Verde), and Southern California (CAISO), and just missed annual lows in most other regions. Peak power prices for the month remained below $40/MWh in all regions except for the Mid-Atlantic (PJM) and New York City (NYISO), $73/MWh and $67/MWh, respectively.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

May is sometimes not thought of as a shoulder month, but this May exhibits shoulder-season tendencies, with daily peak loads stretched from 12-month lows well up into the top quartile of all-time peak loads in many regions due to volatile weather patterns. On the low end, daily electricity system peak loads set 12-month lows in New England (ISONE), New York State (NYISO), and the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), and was very close in the Bonneville Power Administration. On the high end, daily high peak loads were up considerably in May from April, except in California (CAISO) and the Bonneville Power Administration, as one of the warmest May's on record east of the Mississippi River led to healthy May demand levels. Southern Company, Progress Florida, Texas (ERCOT), and Tucson Electric all had peak load days in May close to 80% of their all-time peak demand, with New York State (NYISO), the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), and the Midwest (MISO) close behind.

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