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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for September 2016  |  Release Date: Nov. 29, 2016  |  Next Release Date: Dec. 23, 2016

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Regional Wholesale Markets: September 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

Wholesale electricity prices varied widely throughout the month at most hubs, which can happen in a shoulder month such as September. Weather and subsequently energy prices and demand can resemble hot summer-like or cooler fall conditions depending on the region and time of month. The wide range in prices was most pronounced in the Northeast and in Texas. In the Northeast, daily on-peak wholesale electricity prices in New England (ISONE) ranged between $25-$64/MWh. In New York State (NYISO), prices ranged between $18-$56/MWh and in the Mid-Atlantic, prices in PJM ranged between $28-$60/MWh during the month. In Texas (ERCOT), prices reached a new 12-month high of $75/MWh on September 20 during a period of high electricity demand (65,713 MW peak on September 20) before falling to only $25/MWh on September 30 when demand was at significantly lower levels (45,671 MW).

Wholesale natural gas prices set or were close to 12-month highs across most hubs outside of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Yearly highs were set in the Midwest at Chicago Citygates ($3.09/MMBtu), Louisiana at the Henry Hub ($3.19/MMBtu), Texas at the Houston Ship Channel ($3.21/MMBtu), and in Northern California at PG&E Citygate ($3.56/MMBtu). Wholesale natural gas prices set 12-month lows during the month in New York City at Transco Z6 NY ($0.64/MMBtu) and in the Mid-Atlantic at Tetco M-3 ($0.67/MMBtu).

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand covered a wide-range in each region during the month except in the Northwest (Bonneville Power Administration, BPA), as early-September summerlike temperatures gave way to more autumn-like conditions later in the month. Such large variations in electricity demand present challenges for grid operators, who must match generation to demand at all times. Large intra-day and intra-month demand swings, combined with the arrival of fall shoulder season generator and transmission maintenance, can test operators in ways that more steady summer or winter conditions do not.

In the Northeast, peak demand in ISONE and NYISO reached 23,024 megawatts (MW) and 29,637 MW, respectively, on September 9, but hit only 13,503 MW and 17,593 MW, respectively, on September 24. In the Mid-Atlantic, peak demand in PJM reached 143,033 MW on September 8 but only 88,051 MW on September 30. In the Midwest, peak demand in MISO reached 110,784 MW on September 6, not far off MISO's 12-month high, before falling to a daily peak of only 74,220 MW on September 30. And in Texas, peak demand in ERCOT reached 66,884 MW on September 19 before reaching only 44,299 MW just seven days later on September 26. The sole outlier to this trend was BPA, where daily peak demand remained in a tight range between 5,589 MW and 6,675 MW during the month.

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