Weekly Energy Market Updates by Region - Archive




Issue week: July 16th, 2020  (Wk 29)





WEST Last weekend’s triple-digit temperatures in Southern California elevated prices during the evening ramp in SP15. The volatility in the nightly ramp was especially pronounced in the Real Time LMP as prices spiked above $1,150/MWh on Friday, July 10, and $900/MWh on Saturday, July 11. These extreme prices were also the result of under-forecasting of expected load by CAISO, which necessitated very expensive, fast-ramping natural gas generation to meet the surprisingly large demand. Fortunately, the short duration of the heat wave has not affected the term market, which has been flat this week.

ERCOT  Despite not only the highest load for the month but also the highest temperatures, real-time prices in all zones have cleared in the low-to-mid $20s/MWh this week! That soil conditions are not in the dry stages, even after this lat-est round of high temperatures, should help keep a lid on real-time prices in the near term. Term heat rates were also down a bit from last week, and the ORDC adder for the month to date is just above $1.50/MWh.

EAST Prices have remained relatively stable amid the summer heat that has rolled through the region. The exception is BG&E in PJM, where RT prices print-ed over $100/MWh multiple times this week, reaching as high as $226/MWh be-cause of congestion on the Bagley-Graceton and Conastone-Graceton lines. The DART spread in BG&E has averaged $12/MWh in the on-peak hours this week.







As the U.S. presidential election draws closer, the candidates have begun to crystallize their positions on various major issues, one of which is energy. On that front, the plan of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, published on his campaign website, would mark a drastic change of course from that of the current admin-istration. Of course, Biden still needs to win and gain support in the new Congress. Nonetheless, companies and other energy con-sumers should be ready for all possibilities, and having thorough knowledge of his proposal is key. Biden’s hope is to make the U.S. carbon-neutral by 2035, a goal far more ambitious than that of even the most progressive state policies currently in place. Many states and utilities already have carbon-free objectives of their own, but most shoot for 2045 or lat-er. Therefore, a President Biden could end up exerting significant political pressure directly on ISOs and utilities to realize this dream, especially if Congressional approval is hard to come by. To be clear, carbon neutrality does not mean the complete elimi-nation of coal and natural gas; the country could achieve it by simply offsetting carbon emissions with carbon removal measures, such as reforestation and charging stations for electric cars. To finance such initiatives, Biden, just in his first term, wants to invest $2 trillion, a sum much more aggressive than his earlier call for $1.7 trillion in investment over 10 years. The spending would be spread among several industries, including clean-energy technolo-gies and building efficiencies. With more government support for renewables and innovations in energy storage, energy prices could definitely fall in the long term. On the other hand, the rapid influx of renewables, such as wind and solar, and increasing reliance on them could also invite more price volatility—especially in peak times—as natural gas and coal facilities remain the balancing plants whenever wind and solar en-counter their customary wild fluctuations in availability. The energy industry already faces this risk as renewables have continued to take center stage in the 21st century. Ideally, Biden’s massive investment would work its way through the entire U.S. energy industry to squeeze the greatest cost effi-ciency out of electric grids when wind and solar are lacking, but that future is not guaranteed. Although every company’s strategic goals differ, flexibility and decisiveness will be universally indispen-sable, however the winds will shift. Being fully informed of how the country’s potential future leader plans to shape its energy land-scape can only help firms in their future effort to save on energy costs. 




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