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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for May 2020 Release Date: July 24, 2020 Next Release Date: August 25, 2020

Regional Wholesale Markets: May 2020

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

Wholesale electricity and natural gas prices remained low in May, with all selected trading hubs at or near the low end of their respective 12-month price range. Wholesale electricity prices hit new 12-month lows of $14.40/MWh in New England (ISONE), $14.13/MWh in New York City (NYISO), $15.48/MWh in the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), $2.75/MWh in the Southwest (Palo Verde), $7.39/MWh in Southern California (CAISO), $7.80/MWh in Northern California (CAISO), and $-0.13/MWh in the Northwest (Mid-C). Negative power prices in the Northwest are not all that uncommon during the spring as mild weather and surging hydroelectric output, sometimes also coupled with high wind generation, can depress prices dramatically in this region. The highest recorded price during the month was only $69/MWh in Texas (ERCOT), just a fraction of the $975/MWh 12-month high in that region. Wholesale natural gas prices hit a new 12-month low in New England (Algonquin) at $1.06/MMBtu and stayed below $2/MMBtu at all selected hubs except Northern California (PG&E Citygate), which reached $2.95/MMBtu on May 6. Prices at the Henry Hub in Louisiana stayed in a low and tight range of $1.56-$1.92/MMBtu during the month.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electricity system peak demand levels that were extremely low in much of the country throughout April fell even further on many systems in May. Below, to greatly-below, average temperatures in nearly every state east of the Rockies meant mild temperatures and less air-conditioning demand. New 12-month low daily peak demand levels were set in New York State (NYISO) and the Mid-Atlantic (PJM) on May 2, in the Midwest (MISO) and Southern Company on May 9, and in New England (ISONE) on May 24. The relative highest daily peak demand occurred in Texas (ERCOT) and on the Tucson Electric systems. This is probably no surprise and a result of the fifth hottest May on record in Arizona and much-above-average temperatures in Texas during the month that drove an increase in air-conditioning demand in these regions.