Regional spot natural gas spot prices plummet

After one of the coldest Februarys in recent memory in the Northeast, spot prices for both power and natural gas appear to falling in much of the nation.

Meanwhile, as the calendar turns to March, the pace of nuclear units going off-line for spring refueling and maintenance outages can be expected to increase. There were eight units listed at zero generation on Monday March 2 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and some that had been offline days earlier appear to have returned to service.

Spot natural gas prices were down in all 10 regions monitored by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), according to data released by the agency on March 2. Regional spot gas prices were down at least 10% in seven of the 10 regions.

The March 2 data from EIA also showed that spot power prices in New England, New York City and Mid-Atlantic all fell by more 20%, according to the latest daily spot market data.

New England had the highest reported spot power price at $128.09/MWh. The Northwest had the lowest reported spot power price at $23.75/MWh.

Meanwhile, there were several nuclear units that either went offline over or returned to service over the weekend.

For example, the Exelon (NYSE:EXC) Quad Cities Unit 1 in Illinois was taken offline for a refueling outage. Another Exelon facility in Illinois, LaSalle 2 is evidently returning to service (21% power) following a refueling and maintenance outage that started Feb. 2.

Also Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) confirmed March 2 that it has started a standard planned refueling outage at its Catawba 2 nuclear unit in South Carolina.

The Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Arkansas Nuclear 1 was at 35% on March 2.  Entergy had taken the Arkansas unit offline Jan. 25 for a refueling and maintenance outage. Speaking of Entergy, the Indian Point 3 Unit in New York State was listed at zero generation on March 2 after being listed at 97% generation by NRC late last week.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Watts Bar 1 unit in Tennessee was listed at 14% generation by NRC’s reactor status report. The TVA unit had been forced offline Feb. 21 after a manual trip.

Finally, it appears the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp.’s Wolf Creek plan in Kansas was taken offline over the weekend for an outage.

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.