Power Surges in U.S. East as Plunging Temperatures Drive Demand

Spot wholesale electricity surged to two-week highs from the East Coast to the Midwest as plunging temperatures drove up heating demand.

On-peak prices on the 13-state PJM Interconnection LLC network jumped as power use surpassed the peak forecast for today and two Maryland nuclear reactors tripped offline. Demand jumped above grid projections in the Northeast.

Cities along the U.S. East Coast shoveled streets clear of record snowfall as temperatures plummeted following the season’s worst storm.

“You don’t expect to see that level of demand in the winter that you are seeing in these cold snaps,” said Jeff Lewis, energy industry expert at PA Consulting Group in New York. “When there’s very little supply left and you see demand spiking, you will see prices skyrocket.”

Use on the PJM network rose 5.9 percent to average 123,059 megawatts during the hour ended at 3 p.m. versus the same time yesterday, grid data compiled by Bloomberg show. Earlier in the day, demand was up more than 18 percent.

Spot power for PJM’s benchmark Western hub, which includes deliveries to Washington, more than tripled to average $199.28 a megawatt-hour for the hour ended at 3 p.m. from the same time yesterday, the grid data show. Prices at the Eastern hub, which includes New Jersey, more than doubled to $207.34.

PJM West on-peak power traded $3.32 above the Eastern hub at 4:14 p.m., compared with a $17.45 discount yesterday and a three-month average discount of $8.08 for PJM West.

Maryland Reactors

Both reactors at Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear station 38 miles (61 kilometers) south of Annapolis, Maryland, were shut at 9:25 p.m. yesterday because of an electrical malfunction on the non-nuclear side of the plant, the company said in a statement. Operators are investigating the cause. Unit 1 has a nameplate capacity of 918 megawatts and the second rector’s capacity is 911 megawatts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The light, fluffy snow set daily records in Washington, where 3.8 inches (10 centimeters) fell yesterday, and Philadelphia, which had 13.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Washington’s low today may drop to 11 degrees and Chicago will dip to 1 degree, 17 below normal for both cities, said AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Colder Weather

The low in New York’s Central Park, where 11 inches of snow fell, also a record for the date, is expected to reach 7 degrees Fahrenheit tonight, according to the weather service.

Spot power for New York City tripled to average $560.90 a megawatt-hour at 3 p.m., while Boston power advanced 10 percent to average $220.25.

On-peak power for New York traded $109.80 above Boston, compared with a $24.52 discount yesterday and a three-month average discount of $13.26 for New York.

ISO New England Inc. issued an alert across large swaths of its six-state grid, warning of existing or possible abnormal conditions. In New York, Consolidated Edison Inc., which owns the city’s utility, issued a minimum-oil-burn day to bring oil-fired units online to ensure adequate generating capacity.

Spot power at the Indiana hub, a regional benchmark for the Midwest, jumped 56 percent to average $50.39 a megawatt-hour for the hour ended at 2 p.m. local time from the same time yesterday, the grid data show.

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