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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for March 2019  |  Release Date: May 24, 2019  |  Next Release Date: June 25, 2019

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Regional Wholesale Markets: March 2019

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

In March, wholesale electricity price ranged from a low of $18/MWh in Southern California (CAISO) and a high of $120/MWh in Texas (ERCOT). Wholesale natural gas prices ranged from a low of $0.29/MMBtu in the Southwest (El Paso San Juan) to a high of $155/MMBtu in the Northwest (Sumas) on March 4. This was the highest wholesale natural gas price recorded anywhere in the United States in at least five years. This price spike was due to a combination of reduced supply availability on Enbridge’s BC Pipeline and cold weather. Last October there was an explosion on Enbridge’s BC Pipeline, which supplies a significant amount of natural gas to the U.S. Northwest, and the pipeline was undergoing inspections related to that event when a polar vortex also hit the area, driving down temperatures and increasing demand. Wholesale natural gas prices at the Henry Hub in Louisiana, historically the proxy pricing point in the U.S, traded between $2.67/MMBtu and $4.25/MMBtu during the month.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

In March, electricity system daily peak demand levels were lower than in February in all regions of the country except for Southern Company and MISO. The peak demand day in Southern Company was 8% higher in March than in February and 4% higher MISO in March than in February. Demand was also high on the Bonneville Power Administration system as cold weather in the first half of the month led to an extended period of fairly high demand in that region. Across the rest of the country, system demand tended to remain on the lower half of the 12-month range, with California (CAISO) setting a new 12-month low daily peak demand day on March 3.

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