May 8, 2020

ISO New England Tracker: Power prices sink on lower gas prices, lighter loads

ISO New England Tracker: Power prices sink on lower gas prices, lighter loads


Highlights

April 9 price highest since February 21

Boston Hub on-peak DA-RT spread: $3.94

Mass Hub on-peak May 35% lower than 2019


Houston —
ISO New England wholesale power prices continued to sink year on year in April following weaker spot gas prices and lower power load, as low prices helped natural gas-fired generation jump to more than 50% of the generation stack.

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ISO peakload averaged 12,925 MW in April, down 9.5% from March and down nearly 5% from a year ago. Population-weighted heating-degree days were 33% more than normal across the ISO in April as Boston temperatures averaged 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit for the month, 3.5 degrees below norm, according to CustomerWeather and US National Weather Service data.

Even though lower temperatures would be expected to drive up heating demand for power generation, peakload slipped as stay-home orders related to the novel coronavirus pandemic started in late March across New England and remain active in April.


SPOT PRICE MOVEMENTS

The Connecticut Hub day-ahead on-peak locational marginal prices made the biggest year-on-year movement in the region, falling 34.1% to average $18.90/MWh in April, according to ISO data.


ISO New England Tracker: Power prices sink on lower gas prices, lighter loads

Boston day-ahead on-peak LMPs had the biggest month-on-month change, rising 6.7% to average $19.96/MWh. Prices reached as high as $26.10/MWh April 9, the highest level since February.

Power prices followed the year-to-year movement of natural gas prices, as Algonquin city-gate spot plunged nearly 61% to average $1.580/MMBtu, a 30.3% decrease from March, according to S&P Global data.

So far in May, New England power and gas prices were trending lower both year on year and month on month.


ISO New England Tracker: Power prices sink on lower gas prices, lighter loads

GENERATION MIX CHANGES

Lower gas prices helped gas-fired generation jump to more than 51% of the total fuel mix for the month, up 12 percentage points month on month and up 6 percentage points year on year, ISO data shows. Output increased 13% month on month to average 105,567 MWh/d.

In contrast, nuclear generation dropped to the lowest monthly average in three years at about 17% of the ISO mix, down 17 percentage points month on month and down 12 percentage points year on year. Nuclear output plunged 51% year on year and fell 57% month on month to average 34,712 MWh/day. Three units totaling nearly 3,500 MW were offline for maintenance or refueling during April with two units remaining offline.

Hydro generation averaged nearly 16% of the mix, up 3 percentage points from March and up 2% from a year ago.

Solar output increased more than 26% year on year to average 5,658 MWh/d in April with generation accounting for nearly 3% of the mix, up 1 percentage point, as wind-powered generation increased 1.5 percentage points from a year ago to 6% of the mix with output up 12% to average 12,775 MWh/d.

Total generation climbed 57% year on year but fell 11% month on month to average 206,413 MWh/d, according to ISO data.


ISO New England Tracker: Power prices sink on lower gas prices, lighter loads

FORWARDS CURVE

Continuing a nine-month trend, the Mass Hub on-peak May package averaged $19.51/MWh, 35% below where the 2019 package averaged a year ago, according to S&P Global data. The 2020 package rolled off the curve at $19.55/MWh, nearly $9 lower than where the 2019 package ended, despite rising from a package low of $17.65/MWh at the beginning of the month.

The on-peak June package averaged $21.34/MWh, down 36.3% from its 2019 counterpart, as on-peak July averaged $29.11/MWh, 33.2% lower. The packages were maintaining those price levels into May trading.

Algonquin city-gate May averaged $1.559/MMBtu, 36.6% lower than where the 2019 contract averaged last year. It rolled off the curve at $1.614/MMBtu, 32% lower than where its counterpart ended last year.

Algonquin June averaged $1.667/MMBtu, down 36.7% from the 2019 package averaged a year ago, as July averaged $1.935/MMBtu, 31.6% lower.



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