Eastern U.S. Wholesale Power Gains as Nuclear Reactors Shut

Wholesale electricity from New Jersey to North Carolina gained on lingering heating demand and the biggest drop in Northeast nuclear generation since October.

Spot power rose for the first time in three days as Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. shut a nuclear plant in New Jersey. Electricity usage in the mid-Atlantic states has been about 3 percent to 5 percent above yesterday’s forecast since 7 a.m., according PJM Interconnection LLC, which manages the largest electricity market in the country.

PJM’s benchmark Western Hub, which includes prices from Pennsylvania to Washington, rose 24.15 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $42.72 a megawatt-hour at 1:15 p.m. from the April 12 on-peak average, according to the grid operator. On-peak hours run from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“Today there is stronger-than-expected heating demand in the market,” said Stephen Schork, president of Schork Group Inc., a consulting group in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “You have that in combination with higher input costs and lower baseload nuclear.”

Power consumption in the mid-Atlantic region climbed to 30,669 megawatts at 9:15 a.m., about 5 percent higher than the forecast for that time, PJM data show. The grid operator raised its peak-demand forecast by 3.2 percent to 31,981 megawatts for 8:30 p.m. today from yesterday’s outlook of 30,335 megawatts.

Northeast nuclear generation dropped by 2,359 megawatts, or 11 percent, to 18,930 megawatts from yesterday after three reactors in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Upstate New York were shut, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Output was at 76 percent of capacity, the least since Nov. 19 and 7.9 percent lower from a year ago.

Public Service Enterprise Group shut the 1,174-megawatt Salem 1 reactor, the third-largest in the Northeast, after it was operating at full power yesterday. The plant about 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Wilmington, Delaware, is undergoing refueling and maintenance that will include replacing valves, relays, actuators and seals, according to Joe Delmar, a company spokesman based in Newark, New Jersey.

Plants fueled by natural gas are making up for the loss of generation from these nuclear plants, which is supporting both spot gas and power prices, Schork said.

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