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Wednesday Mar 29, 2023   
The West has been wet and wild this winter with California buffeted by a seemingly never-ending series of atmospheric rivers. Similarly, the Desert Southwest is experiencing an abundance of water at the end of winter. The figure below from the Bureau of Reclamation shows snow water equivalent for the Colorado River Basin from this middle of March. Much of the snowpack that feeds into the Colorado River is saw over 100% of normal conditions. The Upper Colorado was at 142% of the median historical snowpack while the Lower San Juan was over 200% of its median levels. EnergyGPS has covered the increasingly dire situation at Glen Canyon and Hoover dams, most recently in ‘Leveraging Hoover and a New Low at Powell’. In the article, we looked into how this abundant water year is ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 28, 2023   
ERCOT’s day-ahead hourly price settles have seen a nice little bump up during the evening ramp as the sun settles, power demand remains at a heightened level with little wind generation to speak of.  Transitioning into the real-time, the system balancing is such that a higher price signal needs to be sent across all trading hubs during the short stint across the evening ramp period known as HE18-19. Figure 1 | ERCOT Hourly Price Action – North Zone The graph above puts on display the North Zone’s Day-ahead hourly settles (blue) against the real-time values (orange).  The 27th mutes the other days as the real-time spiked up above the $700 mark, which was true for other trading hubs across ERCOT as well.  The implied heat rate math was such that every ... » read more
Monday Mar 27, 2023   
One could see their breath this morning in Portland, OR, while letting the dog out at 3:30 am.  In fact, it was cold enough that the cars parked in the driveways and on the street had a little frost on the windshields, which is another indication just how cold it is as we round out the month of March 2023.  Figure 1 | Atmospheric G2 1-5/6-10 Day Forecast The images in the figure above have been a common theme all winter as the blue/purple coloration has encompassed the EIA Pacific region.  The deeper coloration hovering over California has not directly impacted the overall power prices as of late but continue to deliver higher PGAE and SoCal Citygate cash prices as the natural gas storage levels have been depleted over the past 4.5 months.  The colder temperatures ... » read more
Friday Mar 24, 2023   
We’ve written previously about ERCOT’s “HE20” problem—as opposed to the evening ramp problem faced by CAISO, the tendency that’s been showing up recently for price spikes to occur for a couple of hours or less right around 8 pm, while load is still high, solar is ramping down, and wind hasn’t yet ramped up.  Back on March 21st, a price spike appeared at 8 in the morning instead: Figure 1 | ERCOT RT Dashboard, 3/17/23 – 3/23/23 The top pane of the graph above shows ERCOT North RT prices (orange) and DA prices (blue). In addition to the morning price spike on the 21st, an “HE20” price spike also showed up the following day. While the problem of shifting supply in the evening has more potential to be exacerbated by high ... » read more
Thursday Mar 23, 2023   
This winter has been mild in the Southeastern United States with temperatures mostly above normal. However, mid-March brought a few days of cold with temperatures more than 12 degrees F colder than normal. The figure below shows an average composite temperature for the Southeast region for each day since the start of 2023 up until March 19th. The second panel displays differences from five-year normal with red bars representing warmer than usual and blue showing cold. The red mostly covers the figure while the cold in the middle of March stands out. With most of the eastern side of the country experiencing a warm winter, gas prices have been low and storage fuller than normal. Much of the normal winter coal-to-gas switching that occurs with heightened heating demand and high gas prices ... » read more
Wednesday Mar 22, 2023   
Earlier this month the first new nuclear plant in the US in 7 years reached initial criticality, meaning operators have successfully created a nuclear reaction and produced heat needed for creating electricity. The plant, Vogtle Unit 3 in Georgia, won’t be fully online until May or June, but it’s a huge step for a project that experienced several costly delays. Once fully online, Unit 3 will be able to contribute 1.1 GW of generation to the grid. You can keep track of the ramping on of the new unit by subscribing to EnergyGPS’s daily nuclear outage reports which lists outages for nuclear plants across the country. Figure 1 | Vogtle Unit 1 and Unit 3 Outages (March 14 – 21) Other older nuclear plants are attempting to stick around despite looming or passed ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 21, 2023   
Over the past year, the Lower 48 natural gas production has grown in response to the elevation in pricing that was experienced worldwide. Most of the change in field receipts was posted in the Haynesville and Permian Basins with the latter correlated to the increase in crude oil production. North of the US Border, the production levels took advantage of the higher prices mentioned along with the overall capacity increases tied to pipes located in Western Canada to that of the Pacific Northwest. This has led the region to hit new all-time highs in both British Columbia and Alberta where the production level hit 18.5 BCF over the weekend. When you compared it to last year, the current level is running roughly 8% higher due to the fact that the Alberta numbers have displayed ... » read more
Monday Mar 20, 2023   
California is starting to look like the days of old when it comes to the renewable curtailments that are showing up over the weekend.  The factors that play into curtailments range from thermal generators needing to stay on during the midday so the megawatts can be produced for the evening ramp period, a hydro landscape that continues its upward trajectory when it comes to snowpack and stream flows, and the simple fact that when wind shows up there is nothing to stop the system from slicing into the solar generation volume. Figure 1 | CAISO Solar Curtailments - Year on Year Comparison Starting with the thermal variable, this is something that has been in play for some time given the imports from the Pacific Northwest have not been showing up (for multiple reasons).  The lack of ... » read more
Friday Mar 17, 2023   
A big question at the front of our minds at the Energy GPS headquarters is the solar capture ratio in ERCOT over the next couple of years. The solar capture ratio for a year is calculated by taking the solar-weighted price for the entire year and dividing that by the simple average price for the entire year, where the simple average price includes all 8,760 hours in the year. With low levels of solar penetration, the solar capture ratio exceeds 100%. As the solar penetration rate increases, the capture ratio should go down. In the CAISO, the solar penetration rate is 34% and the capture ratio is about 68%. In every other market in the United States, the solar penetration rate is below 5%. ERCOT has been installing solar at a brisk clip. The million dollar question is whether the ... » read more
Thursday Mar 16, 2023   
The repeated storm systems in the western United States have been a persistent story all winter as the rains have buffeted California over and over again.  It has been a marked change from the norm of the past several years as we have typically described California as a “two-storm” or a “three-storm” state where a handful of precipitation events during the winter usually suffice to refill the reservoirs and complete the build-up of snow in the mountains that will feed the state’s hydro system throughout the spring and summer.  The 2023 water year has flatly refused to stop at just two or three storms with a series of atmospheric river events that have pushed total system storage to their highest levels since the summer of 2021 and total snowpack to ... » read more
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