Coal took another hit in the New York ISO region in Q1 2016

Gas-fired (37%), nuclear (33%) and hydro (21%) generation accounted for most of the internal generation in the first quarter of 2016 in the New York ISO market, said a June 2016 report from Potomac Economics covering first-quarter developments in NYISO.

Average nuclear generation rose 90 MW from the first quarter of 2015 because of fewer deratings and outages. Average coal- and oil-fired generation fell by a total of 970 MW from a year ago, primarily because lower natural gas prices made these fuels less economic. Average hydro generation rose 510 MW from a year ago, partly because:

  • Milder weather conditions led to increased supply of water (compared to frequent icy conditions in the prior year); and
  • Increased output from the Niagara facility in January and February due to limited congestion in the West Zone.

Gas-fired generation fell from a year ago due primarily to lower load levels. Gas-fired and hydro resources were on the margin the vast majority of time in the first quarter of 2016. Most hydro units on the margin have storage capacity and offer based on the opportunity cost of foregone sales in other hours (i.e., when gas is marginal). Hydro units in the West Zone were on the margin more frequently in March, reflecting increased congestion in the West Zone.

Average internal generation for coal in the first quarter of this year in the NYCA region was only 0.16 GW, down from 0.52 GW in the year-ago quarter.

This Potomac Economics report summarizes market outcomes in the first quarter of 2016. It said the energy markets performed competitively and variations in wholesale prices were driven primarily by changes in fuel prices, demand, and supply availability. Average all-in prices ranged from $20/MWh in the North Zone to $47/MWh in New York City, down 49% to 60% from the first quarter of 2015.

Natural gas prices fell 18% in West NY and nearly 70% in East NY because of the combined effects of milder weather conditions, increased LNG deliveries to the region, falling oil prices, and higher production from the Marcellus and Utica shales.

The report noted that the Huntley coal plant units retired at the end of February. Internal ICAP supply rose by 135 MW in NYC, 527 MW in the G-J Locality, and 50 MW in NYCA because of the net effects of:

  • the retirement of the coal-fired Dunkirk Unit 2 and Huntley 67 and 68 (in West NY);
  • the return-to-service of Bowline 2 at full capability (in LHV) and Astoria 2 (in NYC);
  • the ICAP Ineligible Forced Outages of Astoria GT 5, 7, 12 & 13 (in NYC); and
  • increases in DMNC test results across the fleet.

Several coal-fired and gas-fired units were often needed in the past for local voltage support and/or to manage post-contingency flows on 115-kV facilities. These commitments were reduced by transmission upgrades in Western NY, which allowed the last Dunkirk unit to retire at the end of December, the report noted.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.