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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for October 2018  |  Release Date: Dec. 26, 2018  |  Next Release Date: Jan. 25, 2019
Re-release date: January 11, 2019   |   Revision

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Regional Wholesale Markets: October 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 fairly uniform across the country in October. The lowest price of $24/MWh was recorded in the Southwest (Palo Verde) on October 12 and in Southern California (CAISO) on October 6. The highest price was found in the Northwest (Mid-C), which reached $57.50/MWh on October 12. For all days across all trading hubs during the month, 85% of daily wholesale electricity prices fell between $30-$50/MWh during October. Wholesale natural gas prices at the Henry Hub in Louisiana, historically the proxy pricing point in the U.S, traded between $3.01-$3.45/MMBtu during the month. The highest prices occurred in the Northwest (Sumas), which reached $14.38/MMBtu on October 30. The lowest price during the month was recorded in the Mid-Atlantic (Tetco M-3), hitting $1.25/MMBtu on October 2.

Electricity system daily peak demand

Electric systems selected for daily peak demand

Electricity system daily peak demand levels were flat to slowly declining throughout the month of October on all identified electricity systems, with most coming very close to 12-month lows in the latter half of the month. These low load levels are the reason October is the peak fall generator and transmission outage time, as operators get prepared for the potentially challenging upcoming winter weather. All systems had at least one day where peak loads were less than 53% of its all-time peak. This offers a large buffer for equipment outages without affecting system reliability. Only Southern Company and in Texas (ERCOT) had days during October with loads above 80% of the systems’ all-time maximum peak demand.

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