Eastern U.S. Wholesale Power Prices Gain Amid Higher Demand

Eastern U.S. wholesale electricity gained as below-normal temperatures boosted demand.

Spot on-peak power gained in New England and on the 13-state grid operated by PJM Interconnection, from New Jersey into North Carolina and New Jersey. WSI Corp. in Andover, Massachusetts, predicted below-normal temperatures across the region through tomorrow. Spot natural gas on the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline in the mid-Atlantic states jumped to a 20-month high on April 19, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

PJM’s benchmark Western hub, which includes prices from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Washington, gained for the first time in four days, rising $8.96, or 23 percent, to $48.46 a megawatt-hour at 4:12 p.m. from the April 19 on-peak average, data from the grid operator compiled by Bloomberg show. On-peak hours are from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Power from Connecticut to Maine increased $8.75, or 23 percent, to $47.53 a megawatt-hour, according to ISO New England Inc., which manages the region’s grid.

“Cold weather has incrementally increased gas prices and incrementally increased electric demand,” said Chris Kostas, senior power and gas analyst for Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Andover, Massachusetts. “We can expect prices to ease back Tuesday through Friday. Milder weather is going to reduce demand and gas prices.”

WSI said weather that’s expected to be unusually cold today and tomorrow will moderate through the rest of the week. Boston’s high today was 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), 8 lower than the usual reading, while Washington was 11 below normal at 58 degrees, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Peak Demand

PJM’s forecast yesterday showed demand on its grid would peak at 85,802 megawatts at 8:30 a.m. Actual electricity consumption rose as high as 89,710 megawatts at 8:05 a.m. PJM operates the 13-state stretching from New Jersey into North Carolina and Illinois.

New England demand will peak at 15,300 megawatts at 9 p.m., 3.3 percent higher than the April 19 peak of 14,817 megawatts for the hour ended at noon, the grid operator said.

Power plants emerging from maintenance later this week, lower demand because of milder weather, and weaker gas prices, will push spot prices down, Kostas said.

Spot natural gas at Algonquin City Gates, which includes delivery to Boston, rose 18 percent April 19 to $5.3375 per million British thermal units on the Intercontinental Exchange, the most since April 11. Prices today fell 0.6 percent to $5.3049.

Gas Pipeline

The pool price for gas delivered to the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline from Kentucky into New York today fell 3.18 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $4.385. Prices on April 19 rose to $4.4168, the most since Aug. 2, 2011, ICE data compiled by Bloomberg show.

PJM expects generation outages to drop to 36,422 megawatts on April 26 from 41,637 megawatts today, according to the grid operator’s website.

Electricity prices for New York City gave up earlier gains as more supplies came online. Some generating had trouble ramping up at the start of the on-peak hours today when demand was also climbing, which contributed to volatile prices, according to Genscape Inc., which tracks real-time power data.

New York

New York City Zone J power fell $10.51, or 16 percent, to $55.46 a megawatt-hour at 4:12 p.m. from the April 19 on-peak average, according to the New York Independent System Operator Inc.

The 512-megawatt Bayonne Energy Center in New Jersey that was shut earlier this month because of maintenance on the Transco natural-gas pipeline will resume normal operations by the end of April, according to Hess Corp., which co-owns the plant with ArcLight Capital Partners LLC.

While the Bayonne plant can use oil as a substitute fuel instead of gas, Hess said it is taking the opportunity to perform maintenance at the site. The plant, which began operations last year, can produce enough power for 500,000 homes in the New York City area.

On-peak prices were also lower across major Midwest and Texas hubs.

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