Subzero temperatures equal East Coast spot power prices of more than $220/MWh

Thanks to the frigid temperatures, the Mid-Atlantic is the latest region to see a dramatic spike in its spot power prices.

The Mid-Atlantic saw the highest spot power price in the nation at $268.84/MWh, according to figures posted Jan. 7 by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s a jump of more than 115% for the power price in the region the day before.

Baltimore’s high temperature for Jan. 7 is predicted to be 15 degrees F with winds gusting to 20 miles per hour. Boston’s high was also predicted to be in the teens while the New York City high was forecast to be around 11.

New England had the second highest spot power price at $228.90/MWh and New York was third at $224.84/MWh.

During the so-called “polar vortex” the same three regions are also seeing a spike in spot natural gas prices. New York City recorded a spot gas price of $47.80/mmBtu; New England $38.09/mmBtu and the Mid-Atlantic at $33.53/mmBtu.

The Midwest, which has experienced some of the worst of the extreme cold, ranked No. 4 on both spot power and natural gas prices ($76.62/MWh and $7.29/mmBtu), according to Jan. 7 EIA figures. Chicago was expecting a high of 8 degrees F on Tuesday Jan. 7.

Even regions accustomed to mild winter weather, Houston and Louisiana saw big jumps in power prices. Houston’s spot power price increased 44% to $65.00/MWh and Louisiana saw its power price jump 33% to $60.00/MWh.

Weather creates a ‘unique day’ says Genscape analyst

“It is definitely a unique day today,” with power prices being this high for so much of the nation, said Brian McIntosh, a regional director for Genscape who follows the PJM market.

McIntosh noted that PJM has issued a “max-gen” alert. From a generator standpoint, “if you are available to come online at this point, you are coming online,” McIntosh said.

The spot price of natural gas generation is very high during this cold snap and many oil and diesel units are deployed, McIntosh added.

The vast majority of nuclear units in the East are operating although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Jan. 7 reactor report listed two units in the Northeast offline which were online a week ago. They are the FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) Beaver Valley 1 and the Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Indian Point 3

The National Weather Service said Jan. 7 that the bitterly cold temperatures over the central U.S. will be moving into the eastern third of the country on Tuesday behind a strong cold front that is exiting into the Atlantic.

The cold temperatures with the gusty winds will result in dangerously cold wind chills across most of the Eastern Seaboard. Meanwhile, the dangerously cold temperatures across the nation’s heartland will begin a slow moderation, according to the Weather Service.

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.