New England Wholesale Power Gains Amid Higher Demand OutlookNaureen S. Malik
Wholesale electricity from Maine to Connecticut gained for the third time in four days as supply dropped amid forecasts for increased demand.
New England prices jumped 23 percent as the region’s grid operator predicted peak demand today will increase by 1.6 percent while available supply slides 3.9 percent. Power plants fueled by natural gas are running more this week after nuclear generation was shut for scheduled refueling and maintenance.
Power on the six-state grid rose $9.20 to $48.69 a megawatt-hour at 4:12 p.m. from yesterday’s on-peak average, the most since April 3, data from ISO New England Inc. show.
Electricity consumption will rise to 15,120 megawatts during the hour ending at 9 p.m. from yesterday’s peak of 14,923 megawatts during the same hour, the grid operator said in its morning report. Available supply, based on regional generation and imports from nearby areas, fell to 18,597 megawatts today from 19,355 megawatts yesterday, ISO New England said.
Nuclear generation in the Northeast, which includes plants from New Hampshire to Washington, fell by 23 megawatts from yesterday to 18,907 megawatts, the lowest level since Nov. 19, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Plants across the region were operating at 76 percent of capacity.
Entergy Corp. shut its 685-megawatt Pilgrim 1 reactor, about 4 miles (6 kilometers) east of Plymouth, Massachusetts, yesterday for refueling.
The drop in nuclear production is spurring demand for natural gas in the region.
About 57 percent of the electricity produced in New England came from gas-fired plants as of 4:06 p.m. while nuclear accounted for 24 percent, data from ISO New England show. By contrast, gas in late March accounted for about 40 percent to 50 percent of generation and nuclear accounted for up to a third. The rest came from a combination of hydro, renewable, coal and fuel-oil generators.
Prices also gained in New York and the 13-state Eastern grid operated by PJM Interconnection LLC, while Southern California declined.
On-peak power for New York City rose $4.18, or 8.3 percent, to $54.79 a megawatt-hour from yesterday’s average, according to the state grid operator. AT PJM’s benchmark Western hub, which includes prices from Erie, Pennsylvania to Washington, power rose for the first time in three days, gaining $7.47, or 18 percent, to $48.90.
Spot prices at Southern California’s SP15 hub, which includes the Los Angeles basin, dropped $15.98, or 43 percent, to $20.85 a megawatt-hour at 1:12 p.m. local time, as reduced transmission capacity left excess supply in the region while demand fell below expectations.
A transformer at the Los Banos substation reduced capacity on the Path 15 transmission line, which is part of a corridor that stretches from Los Angeles to north-central California, by 2.8 gigawatts, said Chris Jylkka, a Boston-based analyst for Genscape Inc., which monitors real-time power data.
Electricity consumption across the state has been trending below yesterday’s forecast since 9 a.m. local time.
Customers in the San Jose area, particularly in Silicon Valley and Santa Clara, are being asked to conserve energy after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported “heavy damage to the Metcalf transmission substation” because of vandalism, the California Independent System Operator Corp. said in a statement today. The flex-alert is in effect through midnight, the grid operator said.