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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for July 2015  |  Release Date: Sep. 28, 2015  |  Next Release Date: Oct. 26, 2015

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Regional Wholesale Markets: July 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 reflected high electricity demand during the month of July, setting or approaching 12-month highs in many regions. The Northwest (Mid-C) set an annual high of $99/MWh, Northern CA (CAISO) set an annual high of $75/MWh, and Southwest (Palo Verde) set an annual high of $65/MWh. These high prices were set on July 1 when electricity demand throughout the Northwest and California was high, wind generation was low (particularly in the Northwest), and hydroelectric generation remained depressed, as it has been all summer. Outflows measured at the Dalles, a key run-of-river dam on the Columbia River east of Portland and proxy for hydroelectric generation, totaled only 128,000 cubic feet per second on July 1, less than 40% of the five-year average for this date. The Dalles outflows have remained below the previous five-year range, considerably so at times, virtually every day from late-April through the end of July. Wholesale electricity prices were also high in the Northeast, $103/MWh at Mid-Atlantic (PJM), $72/MWh in New York City (NYISO), and $62/MWh in New England (ISONE), though these prices did not approach highs set last winter when natural gas prices were considerably higher.

Wholesale natural gas prices remained very low in July, dropping all the way to $0.77/MMBtu in the Mid-Atlantic (Tetco M-3), $0.87/MMBtu in New York City (Transco Z6 NY), and $1.02/MMBtu in New England (Algonquin), all new lows for the previous 12-month period. Prices stayed below $3/MMBtu across most the country for most of the month.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand was high in July, setting new 12-month highs in several regions. New 12-month highs were set in New England (ISONE) at 24.3 GW, New York State (NYISO) at 31.1 GW, the Mid-Atlantic (PJM) at 143.7 GW, the Midwest (MISO) at 120 GW, and in Texas (ERCOT) at 67.6 GW (ERCOT was very close to setting a new all-time peak demand record as well). Daily peak demand generally rose throughout the month and monthly peaks were reached between July 28-30 in all regions except Progress Florida, which reached its daily peak for the month on July 10.

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