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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for May 2018  |  Release Date: July 24, 2018  |  Next Release Date: August 24, 2018

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Regional Wholesale Markets: May 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 were subdued across the country in May with the exception of Texas (ERCOT). Prices in Texas (ERCOT) reached $123/MWh on May 16 in the midst of a weeklong heatwave that set records across the state. Prices stayed below $75/MWh during the rest of the month in ERCOT. The highest price outside of ERCOT was recorded in the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), where prices reached $70/MWh on May 31. New 12-month low prices of $11/MWh were set in both Northern and Southern California (CAISO).

Wholesale natural gas prices were very low at all trading hubs. At the Henry Hub in Louisiana, historically the proxy pricing point in the U.S., prices stayed in a very tight $2.74-$2.89/MMBtu range during the month. For the second month in a row, a new 12-month low price was set in Southern CA (SoCal Border), which dropped to $1.68/MMBtu on May 1. New 12-month lows were also set in the Midwest (Chicago Citygates) at $2.32/MMBtu, in the Southwest (El Paso San Juan) at $1.62/MMBtu, and in the Northwest (Sumas), where prices dropped to $0.73/MMBtu. Only Northern California (PG&E Citygate) saw any prices above $3/MMBtu, which occurred during the last five trading days of the month and topped out at $3.06/MMBtu on May 29.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand levels covered a wide range at most locations during the month. May temperatures were well-above-normal across the entire U.S., with eight states between Oklahoma and Virginia even recording their hottest May on record. These well-above-normal temperatures resulted in mild weather and lower electricity demand in the beginning of the month but much warmer weather and higher electricity demand towards the end of the month. New York State (NYISO) set a new 12-month daily peak demand low, barely exceeding 16 GW on Saturday, May 12. New England (ISONE) nearly set a new 12-month daily peak demand low on Sunday, May 27, while the Mid-Atlantic (PJM), Tucson Electric, California (CAISO), and Bonneville Power Administration were not too far off annual lows at some point during the month. The highest relative peak demand levels were found in Texas (ERCOT), which reached 95% of its all-time peak load on Tuesday, May 29 as warm weather and steadily growing demand kept ERCOT loads on a long-term increase.

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