Winter 2019/2020 recap: Power system performed well during mild winter
New England’s power system operated reliably during winter 2019/2020, as mild weather and lower fuel prices led to a decline in wholesale energy market prices when compared to winter 2018/2019. Overall consumer demand during the winter months, as well as seasonal peak demand, were lower than the previous year.
Warmer temperatures, lower demand
Temperatures during the 2019/2020 winter months – December, January, and February – averaged 4.3 degrees higher than average, with minimal periods of extremely cold weather in the region.
The mild weather led to lower overall electricity use in New England during the winter. Total electricity use was 30,513 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in winter 2019/2020, down 2.1% from the previous year.
Winter demand peaked at 19,033 megawatts (MW) on December 19, 2019, down 8.2% from last year’s peak of 20,599 MW. The all-time peak in winter demand occurred on January 15, 2004, at 22,818 MW.
Wholesale energy prices averaged $29.97 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in winter 2019/2020, down 31.3% from last year. In addition to a decline in demand, natural gas prices fell to an average of $3.31 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), further lowering energy prices. Natural gas prices averaged $5.66/MMBtu last year.
Overall, the total value of the region’s wholesale energy market was $1 billion this winter, down from $1.57 billion the previous year.
Natural gas the predominant fuel
Natural gas was the predominant fuel source in the region this winter, accounting for 49% of electricity generation in New England. Nuclear power plants generated 29%, while renewable and hydro resources generated 12% and 10%, respectively. Coal and oil units accounted for less than 1% of generation combined.
|Winter 2019/2020 and Change from Winter 2018/2019
||Winter 2019/2020||Winter 2018/2019||Percentage Change|
|Average Natural Gas Price
|Peak Demand***||19,033 MW||20,740 MW||-8.2%|
|Total Electricity Use***||30,513 GWh||31,156 GWh||-2.1%|
|Total Value of Energy Markets||$1 billion||$1.57 billion||-36%|
* One megawatt (MW) of electricity can serve about 1,000 average homes in New England. A megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity can serve about 1,000 homes for one hour. One gigawatt-hour (GWh) can serve about one million homes for one hour. ** A British thermal unit (Btu) is used to describe the heat value of fuels, providing a uniform standard for comparing different fuels. One million British thermal units are shown as MMBtu. ***Since June 1, 2018, active demand-response resources have been able to participate on an hourly basis in the wholesale electricity markets. These resources reduce demand in real time.
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