Midwest Wholesale Power Jumps as Regional Demand Increases

Spot wholesale electricity in the Midwest surged as demand exceeded forecasts while generating capacity dropped across the region.

Indiana prices jumped to $1,303.50 a megawatt-hour just before 7 a.m. central time, the most since Jan. 7, according to the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc. Power usage was 57,313 megawatts at 12:22 p.m., 1.7 percent higher than the forecast for the hour. Nuclear reactors in the Midwest are operating at the lowest seasonal rate since 2009, government data show.

Spot on-peak power at the benchmark Indiana hub rose $38.93, or 106 percent, to $75.52 a megawatt-hour as of 1:14 p.m. from the May 3 full-day average, the highest since April 1, data show from the regional grid operator known as MISO. Prices also gained at Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota hubs. On-peak hours on this grid run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of baseload generation offline still prolonging the outage season, but demand levels starting to climb more towards summer levels,” said Lauren Seliga, regional director for MISO at Genscape Inc. in Boston, which tracks real-time power data. “We’re looking at a very weak supply stack in MISO today” because of lower nuclear and coal generation, she said.

Entergy Corp. shut the 778-megawatt Palisades reactor in Michigan, according to a report from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The unit, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Kalamazoo, was operating at full capacity from Feb. 23 through May 4, NRC data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Michigan Reactor

The 1,122-megawatt Fermi 2 reactor, also in Michigan, didn’t return to service as scheduled today, Seliga said. The 1,122-megawatt DTE Energy Corp. reactor, about 25 miles south of Detroit, was producing 718 megawatts of electricity on April 26 before it was shut, NRC data show.

Two other reactors were already shut because of scheduled refueling and maintenance. Xcel Energy Corp.’s 579-megawatt Monticello unit has been offline since the beginning of March and Ameren Corp.’s 1,236-megawatt Callaway reactor in Missouri has been out of service since April 9.

MISO’s daily forecast shows that there would be 30.51 gigawatts of generating capacity offline today during the peak demand hour beginning at 2 p.m. Those outages are running one gigawatt higher than a year ago, Seliga said.

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