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Monday Feb 7, 2022   
ERCOT continues to lead in conversation with the first real cold weather test passing with flying colors.  As it stands, both the power and natural gas markets did what they needed to so that the heating demand and power consumption was met across the state.  In fact, many took it as a bearish signal as the natural gas spot prices did not jump above the $6.50 mark at Houston Shipchannel and stayed in a nice low double digit level in West Texas (loss of production).  As we like to say around here at EnergyGPS, natural gas needs higher power prices to escalate the bottom line indices or if molecules are actually scarce.  At the end of the day, neither of the two were in play as the renewable sector in ERCOT saw wind show up in groves and the solar output pick back up ... » read more
Friday Feb 4, 2022   
Last May, we published a blog about the Friday Burrito’s annual CAISO curtailment-guessing competition. We’ll reiterate here—the Burrito is an excellent weekly newsletter from Gary Ackerman that is available to those working at a member of the Western Power Trading Forum (WPTF). The competition involves guessing, at the beginning of May, the total amount of MWh that will be curtailed in CAISO over the year. All those who get within 1% of the total split the $250 prize pool. As you may have already guessed from the fact that we’re bringing this up… we won! We had to split the prize pool with the two other winners, but the real prize is the bragging rights. The actual number turned out to be 1,504,676 MWh, with our guesses a little above and a little ... » read more
Thursday Feb 3, 2022   
Slightly less than a year ago now, the middle vertical third of the Lower 48 footprint was under siege by Mother Nature with the focus being on the Lone Star State.  This was due to the short-term forecast building up a block of days where temperatures sat below the freezing level on average during the day from Dallas/Ft Worth all the way down to parts of the border to Mexico. Such an event has never been seen in the magnitude that was formulating and as it unfolded, the weaknesses of the power and natural gas grid became apparent as ERCOT was on the brink of total catastrophe one Saturday evening while pipelines lost production along with key compressors due to power failure or some other issue tied to the extremely cold temperatures.   As it stands right now, the past 11 ... » read more
Wednesday Feb 2, 2022   
I had a buddy in college who, whenever we would encounter a totally ridiculous, unimaginable situation, would remark: "Well.  This is what we trained for."  Well: this week's cold front moving into Texas is what ERCOT has trained for.   The ERCOT grid will face its toughest test of reliability since last February's Winter Storm Uri.  So many of the themes we've been discussing through the year in our ERCOT power and South Central gas market reports are lining up to participate in this week's events, posing the risk of elevated and volatile prices.  The governor and other state politicians have staked their careers on the efficacy of reforms put in place since Uri triggered widespread and fatal blackouts, with the governor issuing a guarantee the lights will ... » read more
Tuesday Feb 1, 2022   
In the never ending saga for SoCal Gas and the Aliso Canyon storage cavern this week saw a turn where the utility admitted they now have too much gas heading into the final months of the withdrawals season. Prior to the start of winter SoCal Gas was charged with injecting more volume into storage in order to have enough withdrawal capacity to meet the peak demand days of winter. The beleaguered Aliso Canyon cavern added 7 BCF taking total inventory on the SoCal system to 89 BCF. But an increase in import capacity combined with a mild turn in the weather this December thwarted efforts to get gas out of the ground.    Figure 1 | SoCal Gas Storage Inventory for 2018 - 2022 Part of the rules instituted by the California Public Utilities Commission for Aliso Canyon Withdrawal Usage ... » read more
Monday Jan 31, 2022   
Storms come in all varieties as the South Central and Gulf Coast deal with hurricanes throughout the summer while just north of these regions take on tornadoes as high/low pressure system collide and create the swirls that have nicknamed parts of Oklahoma as tornado alley.  Out West, we have the Santa Anna winds and wildfire risk that are unique ‘storms’ these days as they create devastation unlike no other.  Up in the Pacific Northwest, the latest type of storm to enter the region was that of last June/July when temperatures reached 118 degrees in many cities that maybe hit triple digits a handful of days throughout the entire summer months.  This was labeled as a ‘heat dome’ and with the warming global environment; it could be considered a new age ... » read more
Friday Jan 28, 2022   
The hydro system in the Pacific Northwest has been off to a strong start so far this winter.  The precipitation was heavy and frequent throughout the month of December, leading to flows in the Upper Columbia 50% higher than is usual.  Mountains all across the region got a head start on snow accumulation and hydro generation averaged 16.3 GW for the month.  Through January so far, the average flat generation is even higher at 17.3 GW, well above the past several years.  The warmer temperatures and drier conditions seen in the Northwest starting a few days into the month have had an effect on system conditions, however.  The figure below plots the snow water equivalent (SWE) in the Cascades over time, with a blue line for the current water year.  Figure 1 | ... » read more
Thursday Jan 27, 2022   
The short sprints tied to colder weather patterns seen in the middle of December 2021 and early January 2022 across the Midwest, Ohio Valley and Northeast have transitioned into more like running the 400m or 800m race at a track meet.  If you look at the current forecast for the 6-10 and 11-15 day periods and slightly beyond, the mid-tier races are forming into the 800m and 1600m relay races that require passing off a baton within a defined length within each lane on the track.  The finally of any local track meet is tied the longer duration races such as the old school 2-mile or now better known as the 3,000/3,200m race where everyone is bunched up at the starting line and the staggering is quickly eliminated as the runners jostle for the inner most position in the closest lane ... » read more
Wednesday Jan 26, 2022   
As we move into February, the 14-day weather outlooks will start moving into a window in which year-on-year comparisons will incorporate last winter’s Winter Storm Uri.  The brunt of that event came during Valentine’s Day, triggered colossal infrastructure failures in Texas that led to fatal blackouts, and spiked gas and power prices across North America to record high levels that were multiples greater than the previous highs.  Anytime the “unthinkable” happens it moves from being “conceptual” to “possible”.  As we approach the one-year anniversary of Uri, it poses the question: what happens to ERCOT if Uri-like conditions return? Figure 1 | Weather forecasts for the start of February for ERCOT are starting to hint at cold ... » read more
Tuesday Jan 25, 2022   
Tomorrow is expected to be one of the coldest days of the year for the North American continent. Population weighted heating degree days are going to push up to 39 which eclipses the polar event experienced last February. That weather event knocked out power to millions of residents in Texas causing one of the biggest energy infrastructure failures in history. Most of the Midwest, Northeast and Eastern Canada will see average temperatures post 15 to 20 degrees below normal. Since it is the coldest day of the year it has the potential to be also the highest gas demand day of the year as well.   Figure 1 | WSI Average Temperatures and Departures for Wednesday January 26 Lower 48 heating load is forecasted to be 59 BCF per day for Wednesday January 26. That will be the highest ... » read more
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