Big chill eases although East Coast prices remain above $220/MWh

The much-discussed “polar vortex” might soon be over and ease the strain on power generators and grid operators.

The bitter cold that has chilled much of the nation in recent days is easing its grip on Jan. 8 although power prices in most of the East remain above $220/MWh, according to figures released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

New York City’s spot power price for delivery on Jan. 8 was reported at $233.59/MWh, which is the highest in the nation. The Mid-Atlantic and New England were not far behind at $228.81 and $225.08/MWh respectively.

New York also listed the highest spot natural gas price at $26.58/mmBtu. The Mid-Atlantic and New England also posted spot gas prices of more than $25/mmBtu.

Nevertheless, eight of the 10 EIA reporting regions listed decreases in spot power prices. Eight of the 10 also reported decreases in spot gas prices from the prior day.

Houston had the largest drop in spot power prices, seeing its spot power price drop more than 41% to $38.00/MWh.

But the Midwest, in particular, continues to feel the impact of the bitter weather. The region’s already-high spot power price climbed another 3% to $78.97, EIA reported. The Midwest natural gas price did drop more than 25% to $5.40/mmBtu.

Chicago was expecting a high temperature of 14 degrees F on Jan. 8 with wind chill values below zero. The Chicago temperature was expected to warm to 37 degrees by Saturday, Jan. 10.

The Minneapolis forecast is even colder than Chicago’s. Minneapolis is expecting to see a high of only 3 degrees, with dangerous wind chills, on Jan. 8 before warming to 32 degrees on Jan. 10.

On Jan. 8 the National Weather Service was calling for a much-anticipated warm-up over the Eastern two-thirds of the United States while weather becomes increasingly active over the Northwest and the Rockies.

“Temperatures will begin to warm as the arctic airmass responsible for the recent bitterly cold outbreak begins to moderate,” the Weather Service said on its website. “A wintery mix will be possible on Wednesday across the lower and mid-Mississippi Valley as precipitation falls through the cold air still in place. Meanwhile, a series of weak systems will result in active weather over the Northwest and Rockies for the next few days.”

During the past couple of days generators have been working to get nearly every available power unit online while grid operators have issued alerts urging conservation. The vast majority of the nation’s nuclear fleet has been operating during the cold snap.




About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at