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Tuesday Oct 2, 2018   
The injection season is closing fast. There are only five weeks left before the natural gas industry switches over to withdrawals. Although most of the country adheres to the switching from injections to draws, the South Central typically injects volume through the month of November. This year that is almost a certainty as the Salt storage inventory has not seen a solid build since the middle of June and is now posting 173 BCF.  That is 123 BCF less than last year and 23 BCF less than where they were at the beginning of the summer injection season.  Figure 1 | EIA South Central Salt Storage Inventory for 2014 - 2018   Despite the jump in North American Production as well as the increase in pipeline flows to the Gulf, South Central demand has overwhelmed the balancing. » read more
Monday Oct 1, 2018   
We have discussed the two hurricanes that have turned into tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard along the Carolinas.  Both brought the substantial precipitation, in the form of rainfall, to both regions as well as impacting the electrical supply grid by shutting down any nuclear facility in their respective path as well as coal/natural gas units tied to flooding of some sort.  Both of the storms fell in the heart of hurricane season tied to the Atlantic Ocean. Figure 1 | Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence's Path As we start the new month of October, the hurricane season is not over as we have seen some late storms roll into the Gulf of Mexico over the years.  As it stands right now, we need to be directing our attention over to the Pacific Ocean as ... » read more
Friday Sep 28, 2018   
As the California ISO (CAISO) continues its efforts to integrate and balance ever-increasing slugs of renewable energy (mostly solar), the other institutions which impact the CAISO markets are not doing them any favors. Figure 1 | CAISO Hourly Net Load Profile  Last April the CAISO published an excellent report titled “Second Revised Flexible Capacity Framework.” Admittedly, it has a boring title, but this report provided great detail about two inter-related challenges. One challenge was simply the magnitude of the evening ramp – the neck of the famous Duck Curve. The second, and more interesting, challenge is the uncertainty around the size of this ramp each day. They looked at 2017 data and compared day ahead schedules for load and generation and calculated for ... » read more
Thursday Sep 27, 2018   
The PJM fuel mix just reached new lows in the coal to gas ratio. The discovery of the Marcellus and Utica shale basins located within the PJM footprint have propelled the construction of new natural gas combined cycle power plants. These generators are among the most efficient facilities on the grid with heat rates that continue to decline. With cheap fuel and efficient operations, the facilities’ break even costs allow them to run as baseload generation. This has driven coal higher up the supply stack causing less efficient units to retire. Looking at Figure 1, we can see the coal to gas ratio has trended lower throughout 2018 when compared to the previous year. Earlier this month, we hit a new low as the ratio fell past the 0.6 level. Figure 1 | Year over Year Coal to Gas Ratio ... » read more
Wednesday Sep 26, 2018   
Over the years, California has been on the forefront of many conversations.  If you go all the way back to the mid-90's deregulation was making its way through the regulatory and political parties.  Once the quirky rules were in place, who could forget the California Energy Crisis in the early 2000's.  Once all the smoke cleared from the fallout, the California power grid was trying to rebuild itself into the powerhouse it once was.  It was just after the halfway point of the new decade when the grid went from a zonal to a nodal market with both a day-ahead and real-time market.  As things started to rock and roll, the system operators introduced what was known as the SCE Limit, which was a stipulation that a certain amount of energy needed to be procured within ... » read more
Tuesday Sep 25, 2018   
We have seen an unbelievable jump in Alberta natural gas demand this year. The expansion of oil sands operations as well as a big shift in the provincial generation dispatch from coal to natural gas has pushed the consumption up by 1 BCF per day compared to similar conditions last year. That is a gain of 19% in one years time. The jump in demand has helped natural gas producers avoid a catastrophe. Restrictions due to NGTL expansion activities have locked in production volumes this year. That means they have seen big limitations to both export and storage markets that have caused big drops in the AECO cash prices.  Figure 1 | NGTL System Demand for 2015 - 2018 Cheap natural gas prices have helped a good deal of this demand growth. But in the coming weeks we will see a demand surge ... » read more
Monday Sep 24, 2018   
At this time last week, the Carolinas were getting ravished as Tropical Storm Florence was 48 to 72 hours into making landfall.  The onslaught of such a storm created massive flooding in many areas including the path of several nuclear facilities.  As a result, we walked in last Monday with NRC posting several thousand megawatts of capacity offline which meant that the power markets implied heat rates would be shifting up as a big chunk of baseload energy was lost. Figure 1 | NRC Daily Capacity Offline - Year on Year Comparison Figure 1 details the movement discussed above as the dark blue line represents 2018.  You can clearly see the straight line up as of the 17th of September, where the offline generation capacity shot up from just over 5 GW to 15 GW.  As the week ... » read more
Friday Sep 21, 2018   
Renewable transactions can take many forms. Virtually all transactions involve the conveyance of RECs – after all, that’s what makes a transaction “renewable.” Common transactions include a physical transaction with bundled RECs, fixed price REC deals, and floating price REC deals (known as contracts for differences) where the REC price goes up as power prices go down and goes down as power prices go up. The deal structure is typically dictated by the buyer, provided that the structure and pricing can be financed. Many buyers prefer to purchase bundled energy and RECs. Some corporates are concerned with derivative accounting of financial transactions. In California, the state RPS rules require that RECs be bundled with physical power. The physical delivery of ... » read more
Thursday Sep 20, 2018   
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the Illinois Zero Emission Credit program last Thursday allowing the nuclear subsidy to remain in place. The Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) was passed in 2016 and effectively subsidized nuclear facilities in Illinois. The credit allowed uneconomic nuclear units to run by putting a price on the social cost of carbon. However, this was not a direct fixed cost but a price collar that would allow qualifying facilities their approximate break even cost to continue operations. A group of independent power producers (IPPs) formed an alliance and immediately filed suit against the nuclear facilities citing a distortion in power prices. The court initially ruled in favor of the subsidy, but the opposing group would not be deterred taking the case to the court of ... » read more
Wednesday Sep 19, 2018   
As we worked our way through the 'Dog Days of Summer' months, SoCal Gas was busy putting gas in the ground at Aliso Canyon.  In fact, there were times that price did not seem to matter as the daily injections were massive despite the fact that the bilateral cash price at SoCal Citygate was telling entities to burn the gas not store it.  This is an illustration of the wackiness of California when it comes to issues in either the power or natural gas market. Figure 1 | SoCal Citygate Cash Prices - July through Current Once we hit the middle portion of August, SoCal Citygate prices started to fall as the daily indices moved out of the double digit level and was coming back into reality.  This was due to the fact that SoCal Gas put the peddle to the medal and made up some ... » read more
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