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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for February 2015  |  Release Date: April 27, 2015  |  Next Release Date: May 26, 2015

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Regional Wholesale Markets: February 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 natural gas and electricity market prices reflected an extremely bifurcated weather pattern during the month of February. In the eastern U.S., extremely high prices resulted from the coldest February on record for many cities. On February 20th in particular, single day low temperature records for either that day or for all of February were set in cities in every state east of the Mississippi River except in Maine. For the month, wholesale electricity prices reached $279/MWh in the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), $223/MWh in New York City (NYISO) and $211/MWh in New England (ISONE). Wholesale natural gas prices in these areas were also very high, reaching $21/MMBtu in the Mid-Atlantic (Tetco M-3), $35/MMBtu in New York City (Transco Z6 NY) and $29/MMBtu in New England (Algonquin).

On the other end of the weather spectrum, wholesale prices were low as a result of one of the warmest February's on record across much of the West. Wholesale electricity prices reached only $36/MWh in Northern California (CAISO), $34/MWh in Southern CA (CAISO), $28/MWh in the Southwest (Palo Verde) and $26/MWh in the Northwest (Mid-C). Wholesale natural gas prices in these areas reached $3.22/MMBtu in Northern California (PG&E Citygate), $3.07/MMBtu in Southern California (SoCal Border), $3.06 in the Southwest (El Paso San Juan) and $2.70/MMBtu in the Northwest (Sumas).

Electricity system daily peak demand


Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Daily peak electricity system demand varied widely by region in February, due to disparate weather conditions and unique regional characteristics. In the Northeast, the brutally cold weather did not have a large impact on electricity demand as the majority of heating systems in these areas are fueled from natural gas, petroleum liquids, and wood sources. Peak demand in New England (ISONE) and New York State (NYISO) reached just over 70% of their respective all-time highs and were not even near peak load levels over the last 12 months.

However, in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, the weather had a bigger effect as there is a much larger prevalence of electric heating systems in these areas and extremely high demand levels often occur on cold winter mornings. In the Mid-Atlantic, PJM set a new all-time winter peak demand record just over 143 GW on February 20 and in the Southeast, Southern Company reached 80% of its all-time maximum and Progress Florida set a new 12-month maximum demand level and was 89% of its all-time demand record during the month.

Through much of the West, record warmth lead to long stretches of "Goldilocks" weather, not too hot and not too cold that leads to minimal heating or cooling demand. High temperatures in Tucson averaged 72 degrees for the month, 74 degrees in Los Angeles and 66 degrees in San Francisco, leading to very low electricity demand levels in California (CAISO) and Tucson Electric.

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