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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for March 2018  |  Release Date: May 24, 2018  |  Next Release Date: June 26, 2018

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Regional Wholesale Markets: March 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

March wholesale electricity prices were lower at all hubs in March as the spring shoulder season arrived and energy demand dropped considerably across the country. The highest prices were found in the Northeast, where prices peaked at $65/MWh in New England (ISONE), $58/MWh in the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), and $43/MWh in New York City (NYISO). This is $3-$45/MWh lower than the peak prices recorded in February at these locations. Prices in the Southwest (Palo Verde) and Texas (ERCOT) were within $1.50/MWh of 12-month lows.

Wholesale natural gas prices were also considerably lower in March than in February. Monthly peak prices were 11%-60% lower at all selected trading hubs except Southern California (SoCal Border). The SoCal Border price reached $3.05/MMBtu on March 5, up slightly from the $3.00/MMBtu peak price recorded in February. At the Henry Hub in Louisiana, historically the proxy pricing point in the U.S., prices stayed in a tight $2.58-$2.80/MMBtu range during the month.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand levels were considerably lower in March than in February in all selected electricity systems as the cold winter weather of February gave way to more mild March temperatures. Daily peak demand highs in March were 38% lower in Progress Florida, 29% lower in Texas (ERCOT), 25% lower in Southern Company, and 20% lower in both the Midwest (MISO) and Mid-Atlantic (PJM). These lower demand conditions are the reason why planned transmission and generator maintenance outages, as well as nuclear refueling and maintenance, begins in earnest in March in preparation for the upcoming peak summer demand season.

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