Entries in wholesale prices (38)


Monthly wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England, October 2017

The average wholesale electricity price rose in October, while October energy use was fifth-lowest monthly total since 2000

Higher natural gas prices were a factor in driving up the monthly average price for wholesale electricity in October by 40%, to $31.71 per megawatt-hour (MWh)*, over the October 2016 price of $22.72/MWh. Another factor contributing to higher average power prices was seasonal maintenance that took thousands of megawatts of generation out of service during the month, resulting in tight system conditions at times. Spring and fall are called the “shoulder” seasons, due to lighter consumer demand for power when weather is mild. Because demand is lower, transmission equipment and power plants are often taken out of service during the shoulder months for routine maintenance and repairs so the equipment is ready and available to handle higher demand during summer and winter.

While energy usage is typically lower during shoulder months like October, last month stood out. Total energy consumption during October 2017 was the fifth-lowest of any month since January 2000, and the lowest during any October since 2000. October 2017 was also the warmest on record since 1895 in New England, a likely contributor to lower demand. Further, an intense storm arrived at the end of the month, resulting in New England-wide outages affecting as many as 1.3 million customers, lasting several days in some areas.

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Monthly wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England, September 2017

The average wholesale electricity price dropped on record-low September demand and very low natural gas prices

September brought the third-lowest monthly average price for natural gas in 14 years, and the lowest energy usage during any September in New England since 2000. The result was a lower average wholesale electricity price for the month. September’s low demand follows on August’s record for the lowest energy consumption during any August since 2000.

The average real-time price of wholesale power, at $26.31 per megawatt-hour (MWh)*, was the 16th-lowest monthly price since March 2003, when markets in their current form were launched. The September real-time price was down 3.3% from the September 2016 average price of $27.21/MWh. The average day-ahead price of $23.57/MWh was 17.6% lower than the day-ahead price during September 2016, but the real-time price drop was smaller as a result of actual system conditions, including high demand on several days with planned generator outages, that pushed prices up.

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Spring 2017 markets report reviews wholesale market outcomes during March, April, and May 2017 

The Spring 2017 Quarterly Markets Report prepared by the Internal Market Monitor (IMM) of ISO New England reviews wholesale energy market outcomes for the three-month period from March 1 through May 31, 2017.

The report notes that the total wholesale cost of electricity (including energy, capacity, and ancillary services) during the three-month period was $1.3 billion, up 26% compared to the market value of $1.0 billion during the spring of 2016. The average day-ahead wholesale energy price was $30.78 per megawatt-hour (MWh), up 32% over the average day-ahead price during spring 2016, while the real-time price was $31.92/MWh, 44% higher than the average real-time price during the previous spring. The year-over-year increase was driven by natural gas prices that were 54% higher, averaging $3.59 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) compared to the $2.33/MMBtu average price during the previous spring. Unseasonably cold temperatures during March 2017 compared with March 2016 drove most of the year-over-year increase in quarterly average prices. In March 2017, natural gas averaged $4.46/MMBtu, a 127% increase over the historically low natural gas prices seen during the previous March.


Wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England, July 2017

July’s average wholesale electricity price dropped year-over-year, tracking a decline in natural gas prices

Natural gas and wholesale electricity prices both dropped almost 10% in July compared to the prices seen during July 2016. The average wholesale power price during July was $26.62 per megawatt-hour (MWh)*, down 9.3% from the July 2016 average of $29.33/MWh, while the average monthly price of natural gas was down 9.4% during July.

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Monthly wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England, June 2017

June’s average wholesale electricity price was the seventh-lowest monthly average since 2003

Compared to the near record-low prices of June 2016, natural gas and wholesale electricity prices rose slightly in June--but were still among the lowest monthly prices seen since 2003. The average wholesale power price during June was $23.93 per megawatt-hour (MWh)*, the 7th lowest since the region’s current energy markets were launched in 2003. Still, the June price was about 13% higher than the June 2016 price—which was the 3rd lowest since 2003, at $21.24/MWh. The average monthly price of natural gas was the 11th lowest since 2003, compared to the June 2016 average natural gas price, which was the 8th lowest.

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Wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England, May 2017

Rising natural gas prices caused wholesale electricity prices to increase during May

Natural gas prices in May were nearly 44% higher than during the previous May in New England, pushing up the average wholesale power price to $29.44 per megawatt-hour (MWh)*, a 38.2% increase compared to the May 2016 average price of $21.29/MWh. For a month-to-month comparison, the May power price was 6.6% lower than the April average price of $31.51.

While the month of May was not particularly unusual, one day—May 18, the day of the May peak—was interesting for significant price variations resulting from a combination of planned power plant and transmission line outages and unusually high temperatures. The range in five-minute prices—from negative prices in northern areas of New England to prices over $800/MWh in other parts of the region—is illustrative of the operational challenges that can arise during the “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall, when consumer demand for power is typically lighter and power plant and transmission lines are taken offline for maintenance and repairs. Read more about the dynamics at work that day. 

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