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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for May 2019  |  Release Date: July 24, 2019  |  Next Release Date: August 26, 2019

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Regional Wholesale Markets: May 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

Wholesale electricity and natural gas prices were very low across the country in May and set new 12-month lows in many cases. 12-month low wholesale electricity prices were recorded in New England (ISONE), New York City (NYISO), the Southwest (Palo Verde), Southern California (CAISO), and the Northwest (Mid-C). A new 12-month low natural gas price was recorded in the Southwest (El Paso San Juan) and very nearly set in New England (Algonquin), the Midwest (Chicago Citygates), Louisiana (Henry Hub), and in Texas (Houston Ship Channel). Prices at the Henry Hub in Louisiana, historically the proxy pricing point in the U.S., traded between $2.54/MMBtu and $2.73/MMBtu during the month, nearly identical to the $2.53-$2.76/MMBtu range in April. Prices were very low this month due to a couple factors. First, weather in May tends to be fairly mild from an energy use perspective. Outside of a few isolated days or areas (such as hot weather in Florida), temperatures above or below normal during the month do not result in spikes in energy usage compared to winter or summer months where the weather already leads to increased heating or cooling demand. Second, due to high levels of domestic natural gas production, natural gas prices remain low across the country. This leads to lower electricity prices as natural gas-fired generators set the marginal electricity price in many areas much of the time. Third, though lower this year than is often the case, hydroelectric generation is high during the month as temperatures warm and snowpack melts. This delivers low-cost generation onto electricity systems, especially in the Northwest, and much of this power is delivered into Southern California and other points south via high voltage transmission lines.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

May started off mild, with electricity system daily peaks at or very close to 12-month lows on all identified systems other than Progress Florida, before climbing steadily throughout the month as temperatures increased. New England (ISONE) set a new 12-month low daily peak high at just under 12,000 MW on May 11. Florida was the outlier, experiencing its hottest May on record and the Progress Florida system setting a new 12-month daily peak high on May 28 at 11,292 MW, though this stayed far short of the all-time peak on this system of nearly 13,400 MW. The high electricity demand was directly due to very hot, humid weather. Much of the state had high temperatures close to 100 degrees and dew points well into the 70’s, which is considered oppressively humid.

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