‘Dangerously cold’ for most of country; Midwest prices up 60%

Due to the bitter cold, Midwest spot power prices for delivery Jan. 6 were up 60% and hit $56.15/MWh, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The Jan. 6 weather forecast for places like Chicago and Minneapolis looks pretty ugly. The “highs” in both places are forecast to be well below zero (18 degrees below in the Twin Cities and minus-14 degrees in Chicago).

The Midcontinent ISO (MISO) is being tested by the extreme cold, said Lauren Seliga of Genscape. Seliga is a regional director for Genscape who follows MISO.

“It’s the coldest snap for the region in the past couple of years,” Seliga said. The analyst expects the situation could get tougher as the extreme cold spreads across the Midwest.

While harsh January cold isn’t too unusual in the Midwest, places like Houston are also feeling the chill. Houston is expected to see a high in the upper 30s on Jan. 6. The nighttime low is forecast to be in the lower 20s, according to the National Weather Service.

Houston spot power price for delivery Jan. 6 was $45.00/MWh, which was up 20% over the prior day.  

Nationally, New England had the highest reported spot power price at $173.43/MWh. New York City had the second highest spot price at $138.91/MWh.

“Cold temperatures and gusty winds associated with an arctic airmass will continue dangerously cold wind chills as far south as Brownsville, Texas and central Florida,” the National Weather Service said Jan. 6.

This arctic airmass will affect the eastern two-thirds of the country on Monday as a sharp cold front moves towards the East Coast. The cold temperatures will remain in place through mid-week before a warming trend begins.

Boston expects a high 57 today dropping to 8 degrees F by Tuesday night. A similar weather pattern was anticipated in New York City. Strong winds are making wind chill numbers extreme.

Ironically, New York and New England are the only two of EIA’s 10 major reporting regions that showed spot power price decreases on Jan. 6.

Throughout the course of the day on Jan. 6 various entities, ranging from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) various Midwest utilities announced special operation efforts to cope with the cold.

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 wayneb@pennwell.com.