Northeast wholesale power gains as colder weather sweeps region

WHOLESALE ELECTRICITY PRICES climbed in the Northeast as a nor'easter threatens to drop up to two feet of snow in the region.
Posted 2/7/13

NEW YORK - Wholesale electricity prices from New York to Maine climbed as frigid weather lifted demand while a snow storm is forecast for the region over the next two days.

Spot power for New York City jumped to a two-week high as demand across the state grid exceeded estimates made yesterday by 2.8 percent. New England prices rose to the highest in eight days with electricity use running 4.3 percent above forecasts.

A nor’easter threatens to drop 10 inches of snow in New York City starting tomorrow and two feet of snow in eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service. A winter storm watch extends from Maine to Pennsylvania.

On-peak electricity for New York City rose $32.67, or 28 percent, from yesterday to average $151.33 a megawatt-hour at 11:12 a.m., the highest since Jan. 25, according to data from the New York Independent System Operator Inc. compiled by Bloomberg. The three-month average is $77.09.

Boston power climbed $47.62, or 42 percent, to $160.66 a megawatt-hour, heading for the highest average since Jan. 28, ISO New England Inc. data compiled by Bloomberg show. The three- month average is 75.21.

Natural gas prices for delivery today at the Algonquin City Gates, which include Boston, rose $6.5642, or 42 percent, to $22.22 per million British thermal units in trading yesterday on the Intercontinental Exchange. Transco Zone 6 gas for New York City tomorrow fell $5.2205, or 49 percent, to $5.49 per million Btu from $10.7105 the previous day.

‘Holding firm’

“We have very cold weather that is expected to weaken by Monday,” said Teri Viswanath, director of commodities strategy at BNP Paribas SA in New York. “The Algonquin market appears to be holding firm to yesterday’s trading,” while Transco Zone 6 gas has weakened because the storm will hit the region later in the day tomorrow, she said.

Electricity use on the New England grid totaled 17,511 megawatts as of 10:45 a.m., above the day-ahead forecast of 16,793 megawatts for the hour. Demand on the New York state grid was 21,430 megawatts at 10:53 a.m., higher than the forecast of 20,838 megawatts.

The temperature in New York’s Central Park was 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 Celsius) as of 10:48 a.m. and the low may drop to 20 degrees in two days, 8 below normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. Boston was at 23 degrees and the city’s low may plummet to 10 degrees on Feb. 9, 14 below average for the day.

Power plants fueled by natural gas accounted for 43 percent of the generation from Maine to Connecticut as of 10:25 a.m., while nuclear accounted for 34 percent, according to ISO New England. The rest came from hydro, coal, renewable sources and oil.

“The combination of very cold weather followed by a warm- up when business resumes on Monday is incredibly challenging for our gas utilities to react to.”

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