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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for June 2015  |  Release Date: Aug. 26, 2015  |  Next Release Date: Sep. 24, 2015

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Regional Wholesale Markets: June 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 lower than the higher levels of electricity demand that occurred in June would suggest. This is a result, as is often the case, of low natural gas prices during the month. Natural gas prices set annual lows in five of the ten selected hubs and were within $0.15/MMBtu of annual lows in the other five selected hubs. Prices reached as low as $1.15/MMBtu in the Mid-Atlantic (Tetco M-3), $1.20/MMBtu in New England (Algonquin), $1.38/MMBtu in New York City (Transco Z6 NY), and $1.50/MMBtu in the Northwest (Sumas). Only four locations had natural gas prices exceed $3/MMBtu on any one day during June, with the high price for the month reaching just $3.24/MMBtu in Northern CA (PG&E Citygate).

As a result of these low wholesale natural gas prices, wholesale electricity prices remained well below highs recorded in the last 12 months in all regions except the West, where many states experienced their hottest June on record, even though daily peak demand levels approached 12-month high levels in nearly all regions. The highest price in June, and a 12-month high for this hub at just under $65/MWh, was found in the Northwest (Mid-C), a real anomaly as this region typically has some of the lowest prices in the country. Prices were high as a result of lower availability of hydroelectric generators due to significantly below average rainfall during them month, a planned maintenance and refueling outage in May and June at the Columbia Generating Facility (a large nuclear facility in Washington), as well as a precipitous drop in wind generation in the Pacific Northwest, which saw very little wind generation during the last week in June. This lead to a large spike in natural gas usage as natural gas-fired generation stepped in to replace the gap left by the lack of wind and nuclear generation. A 12-month high price was also set in Northern CA (CAISO) at just over $63/MWh. Contrast this with prices in much of the rest of the country, which peaked at only $32/MWh in Texas (ERCOT), $35/MWh in Louisiana (Entergy) and New England (ISONE), and $36/MWh in the Midwest (MISO). Price levels overall were fairly low compared to many previous June's.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

June electricity daily peak demand was uniformly toward the upper end of the 12-month range across the country. Every region except New England (ISONE) and the Northwest (Bonneville Power Administration) had daily demand peaks over 90% of 12-month highs in their respective regions. Relative to all-time peak demand levels, Tucson Electric (94% of all-time peak), Southern Company (91% of all-time peak) and Texas (ERCOT, 90% of all-time peak), all exceeded 90% of all-time peak daily demand at some point during the month. These demand levels reflect weather patterns during the month, as most states from coast to coast (outside of New England and the Great Lakes region) recorded a very warm June.

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