Winter storm drives up spot prices nationwide, EIA reports

Harsh winter weather across a large swath of the country has driven up spot prices for electricity and natural gas nationwide, according to data posted Feb. 5 on the Energy Information Administration (EIA) website.

Spot power prices in all 10 of the regions monitored by EIA either increased or (in the case of Louisiana) stayed the same. The largest price increases, compared to the prior day were in New England (almost 63%); the Northwest (43%); and Houston (41%).

New England had the highest spot electricity price at $173.87/MWh and the Northwest had the second highest at $103.00/MWh. Spot power and natural gas prices in the East are not as high as they were during the polar vortex days of January, but higher prices are far more widespread across the nation.

Spot natural gas prices increased in all 10 of the EIA reporting regions, anywhere from 14% to 76%.

New England had the highest spot gas price at $19.77/mmBtu. New York City had the second highest at $10.14/mmBtu and the Northwest was third at $8.40/mmBtu.

Speaking of the Northwest, Seattle is expecting a high temperature only in the mid-30s for the next couple of days, which is significantly below average for this time of year. Things are also cooler than usual in Portland, which has a chance of snow in the next couple of days.

The Nymex future spot price for March delivery is listed as $5.38/mmBtu or nearly 10% higher than the day before.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says a major winter storm will continue to move east into Wednesday, Feb. 5, with multiple hazards including: heavy snow from central Kansas through the Ohio Valley and Northeast; heavy ice accumulation from Arkansas into the Ohio River Valley and Mid-Atlantic; and heavy rainfall with possible flooding for parts of the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys.

Temperatures will be 20 to 40 degrees below average over the Plains/High Plains, according to the weather service.

The Weather Channel is calling the current system ‘Winter Storm Nika’ and saying it could affect about two dozen states.

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.