Monthly wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England, November 2023

Wholesale power prices averaged $37.01 per megawatt-hour (MWh)1 in the Real-Time Energy Market in November 2023, down 45% compared to the previous year. Day-Ahead Energy Market averages were $39.64/MWh, down 36% from November 2022.  

By the numbers

November 2023 and Percent Change from November 2022 and October 2023November 2023November 2022October 2023
Average Real-Time Electricity Price ($/megawatt-hour)$37.01-45.0%52.4%
Average Natural Gas Price ($/MMBtu)$3.45-40.1%144.7%
Peak Demand17,260 MWs2.6%4.6%
Total Electricity Use9,174 GWh2.1%5.3%
Weather-Normalized Use29,058 GWh-0.5%4.3%

Drivers of wholesale electricity prices

In general, the two main drivers of wholesale electricity prices in New England are the cost of fuel used to produce electricity and consumer demand.

Power plant fuel

Fuel is typically one of the major input costs in producing electricity. Natural gas is the predominant fuel in New England, used to generate 52% of the power produced in 2022 by New England’s power plants, and natural gas-fired power plants usually set the price of wholesale electricity in the region. As a result, average wholesale electricity prices are closely linked to natural gas prices.

The average natural gas price during November was $3.45 per million British thermal units (MMBtu)3. The price was down 40% from the November 2022 average Massachusetts natural gas index price of $5.76/MMBtu. The Mass. index price is a volume-weighted average of trades at four natural gas delivery points in Massachusetts, including two Algonquin points, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, and the Dracut Interconnect.

Wholesale electricity and natural gas prices, 2003-2023

Electricity demand

Demand is driven primarily by weather, as well as economic factors. Energy usage during November increased 2.1% to 9,174 GWh from the 8,981 GWh used in November 2022.

The average temperature during November was 41˚ Fahrenheit (F) in New England, down 6˚ from the previous November. The average dewpoint, a measure of humidity, was 29˚F in November, down 5˚ from the previous November. There were no cooling degree days (CDD) during November, which is typical for New England. 4 In November 2022, there were 2 CDD. There were 734 heating degree days (HDD) during November, while the normal number of HDD in November is 681 in New England. In November 2022, there were 557 HDD.

Consumer demand for electricity for the month peaked on November 29 during the hour from 5 to 6 p.m., when the temperature in New England was 32°F and the dewpoint was 14°. Demand reached 17,260 MW. The November 2023 peak was 2.6% higher than the November 2022 peak of 16,827 MW, set during the hour from 5 to 6 p.m. on November 21, when the temperature was 35°F and the dewpoint was 17°.

Peak demand is driven by weather, which drives the use of heating and air conditioning equipment. The all-time high winter peak was 22,818 MW, recorded during a cold snap in January 2004 when the temperature was -1°F and the dewpoint was -20°. The all-time peak demand in New England was 28,130 MW, recorded during an August 2006 heat wave, when the temperature was 94°F and the dewpoint was 74°. Air conditioning use is far more widespread than electric heating in New England, so weather tends to have a relatively greater impact on the summer peak than the winter peak.

Monthly peak demand and total and weather-normalized energy use

Resource mix and emissions

The mix of resources used in any given time period depends on price and availability, as well as supplemental resource commitments needed to ensure system stability. Natural gas-fired and nuclear generation produced about 78% of the 7,674 GWh of electric energy generated within New England during November, at about 58% and 20%, respectively. Renewable resources generated about 13% of the energy produced within New England, including 5.5% from wood, refuse, and landfill gas; 4.6% from wind; and 3.3% from solar resources. Hydroelectric resources generated 8.5%. Coal resources generated 0.1% while oil-fired resources generated 0.3%. The region also received net imports of about 1,749 GWh of electricity from neighboring regions.

November generation in New England, by source

The mix of resources used to produce the region’s electricity is a key driver of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The ISO estimates these emissions through an analysis that blends data on electricity generation by fuel type with an emissions factor for each fuel that is based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency.5

November estimated CO2 emissions in New England, by fuel source (metric tons)

New England power plants produced an estimated 2.37 million metric tons of CO2 in November 2023, an 8.4% increase from last year.

Estimated CO2 emissions from natural gas-fired plants—typically the largest source of emissions, due to the significant amount of power these resources produce—rose 9% year over year, from 1.61 million metric tons to 1.75 million metric tons. These resources accounted for 74% of the power system’s estimated emissions.

Together, oil- and coal-fired resources produced an estimated 25,593 metric tons of CO2 (about 1% of the total), nearly 6 times the amount they produced in November 2022.

CO2 emissions from other resources—mostly refuse and wood—were estimated at 594,788 metric tons, up 3.5% from last year. These resources accounted for about 25% of the power system’s estimated CO2 emissions for the month.

1One megawatt (MW) of electricity can serve about 750 to 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 1 million homes for one hour.

2Weather-normalized demand indicates how much electricity would have been consumed if the weather had been the same as the average weather over the last 20 years.

3A 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.

4A degree day is a measure of heating or cooling. A zero degree day occurs when no heating or cooling is required; as temperatures drop, more heating days are recorded; when temperatures rise, more cooling days are recorded. The base point for measuring degree days is 65 degrees. Each degree of a day’s mean temperature that is above 65 degrees is counted as one cooling degree day, while each degree of a day’s mean temperature that is below 65 degrees is counted as one heating degree day. A day’s mean temperature of 90 degrees equals 25 cooling degree days, while a day’s mean temperature of 45 degrees equals 20 heating degree days.

5The factors used to calculate estimated CO2 emissions were updated in January 2023. ISO New England analysts regularly review and refine the methodology used to develop these emissions factors, in order to reflect the characteristics of New England’s generating fleet and improve the accuracy of the estimates.

Historical weather data provided by DTN, LLC.; Underlying natural gas data furnished by ICE.

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