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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for December 2018  |  Release Date: February 27, 2019  |  Next Release Date: March 26, 2019

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Regional Wholesale Markets: December 2018

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 in December were highest in the western United States, with Northern and Southern California (CAISO) hitting $112/MWh on December 3 and the Southwest (Palo Verde) trading for $77/MWh on the same day. Prices in the Northwest (Mid-C) peaked the following day, reaching $97/MWh on December 4. Outside of the West, prices peaked in New England (ISONE) at $82/MWh on December 5 and remained below $58/MWh throughout the rest of country during the month. Wholesale natural gas prices were highest in New England (Algonquin), as is typically the case during the winter, reaching $11.44/MMBtu on December 3. Prices in the Northwest (Sumas) were down significantly from previous months as normal operations resumed on the Enbridge Westcoast Energy network after a pipeline explosion in October. This pipeline system meets roughly half of the natural gas demand in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Sumas prices reached $10.68/MMBtu on December 3, down from a peak price of $61.82/MMBtu in November. Wholesale natural gas prices at the Henry Hub in Louisiana, historically the proxy pricing point in the U.S, traded between $3.10-$4.70/MMBtu during the month.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand levels in December were surprisingly similar to demand levels in November, due to much warmer than normal temperatures across most of the country during the month. The biggest peak load difference, and also the highest demand relative to normal, was found in the Bonneville Power Administration region. Peak demand there hit 9,508 MW on December 6, 82% of BPA’s all-time record. All other systems experienced peak daily demand on the lower half of the 12-month range and in Texas (ERCOT), demand levels were lower in December than in January and very close to a new 12-month low.

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