Each of the 10 regions monitored by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported spot power prices in excess of $100/MWh, according to figures posted Feb. 6.
This comes as the National Weather Service (NWS) predicts “very cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills will settle into the central U.S. for the next few days.”
This marked the second day in a row that EIA spot power and natural gas prices have increased across the board for virtually the entire nation.
For example the Midwest listed the cheapest spot electricity price on Feb. 6 at $109.41/MWh. By contrast, that’s higher than the most expensive regional spot price in the nation for most days in December.
New England had the highest spot power price in the nation at $224.50/MWh. The Northwest had the second highest spot electricity price at $218/MWh, which is almost 112% more expensive than the prior day.
Spot gas prices surpassed $20/mmBtu in six of the 10 reporting regions. Louisiana reported the lowest spot gas price in the nation at $8.12/mmBtu.
“It’s definitely a fuel price issue,” said Genscape’s Brian McIntosh, a regional director who analyzes the PJM market. Now, however, the situation exists beyond the East. Gas prices have escalated from Texas to Illinois, and this is also reflected in the price of power that is moved into the East Coast, McIntosh said Feb. 6.
One Midwest nuclear plant that has been offline appears to be returning to service. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported Feb. 6 that the Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) Monticello nuclear plant in Minnesota is now at 10% generation. The company had announced Jan. 18 that operators of the plant began a “controlled, non-emergency shutdown” of the plant on the evening of Jan. 17.
More nuclear generation available should prove handy during the cold snap.
The National Weather Service also predicts “an active weather pattern will bring much needed rain and snow to parts of the western U.S. Additionally, warm, dry and windy conditions will increase fire weather concerns across south-central Alaska through the weekend.”