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Thursday Jul 29, 2021   
This year was expected to be a problem for the California ISO power dispatch. The multi year drought has taken hydro power down to only 1.5 GWa which is a loss of 1.1 GWa from year ago levels. It was widely anticipated that this would happen and that thermal commits within the state would have to make up for the output change. SoCal Gas would have to supply the fuel for this dispatch change and this would thwart any efforts to refill the storage capacity. But because SoCal Gas came out of the winter with an above normal level of inventory and they made adjustments to the pipeline receipts the storage inventory has surprised many by posting near full as of this week.     Figure 1 | SoCal Gas System Pipeline Imports for 2019 - 2021 SoCal Gas has posted a notice ... » read more
Wednesday Jul 28, 2021   
A mini-heat wave this week pushed ERCOT peak-hour load figures up near record highs, but – due to the robust growth of renewables – the market impact from elevated load days just isn’t what it used to be.  For ERCOT’s net thermal records to become at risk will take increasingly larger spikes in loads and/or much sharper interruptions to renewables generation than in years past.  This week put these dynamics on bright display.  A bit of heat made its way into the market.  (Somewhat of a rarity so far this summer-to-date).  The heat was nothing extraordinary, but, given the volume of structural load growth from things like an economic recovery, population growth, and new construction, the loads flirted with monthly record highs.  This is ... » read more
Tuesday Jul 27, 2021   
The South Central is finally getting some heat across Texas and other states along the Gulf Coast.  This means that the hourly power demand profile is moving higher with the later afternoon block of hours riding the steepest point of the curve given the wind dies down substantially when the heat moves in.  The volatility around the increasing wind capacity has been a part of the conversation within an ERCOT conversation for years as the instantaneous price spikes are in play when the supply stack needs to find quick firing generation to replace the lack of wind on a moments notice.  With the introduction of solar capacity over the past few years, the grid operators have a third dimension to account for from both a macro grid level and a micro local area as the transmission ... » read more
Monday Jul 26, 2021   
It seems like years not months since the February situation turned ERCOT's electricity market upside down and left many with more questions than answers.  Most of the conversation around the ERCOT market was reserved for the summer months when power demand was at its peak and the market structure in place wanted to send a high enough price signal to warrant new generation.  Since February 2021's price action was so extreme it actually pushed the ERCOT cap down from the $9,000 level to that of $2,000.  In the middle of June, we saw some of the first heat that drove up electricity demand while the supply side had several units offline for maintenance.  This combination caused the hourly price settles to clear at the new cap level and cause more concerns with the newly ... » read more
Friday Jul 23, 2021   
By Tim Belden Renewable procurement by corporates really began to accelerate around 2015. I remember working with corporate clients at that time as they tried to figure out what to buy, where to buy, and when to buy. For several years, PPA pricing dropped each year; buyers without firm deadlines often decided to wait and see. Waiting was a winning strategy. Making things even harder, was that a low wholesale price environment caused negative settlements (i.e., payments) for contracts that had reached commercial operation. It was a bear market! I also advised many developers at that time. The news was not good. We were in a race to the bottom. Pricing was competitive and contract terms were heavily tilted ... » read more
Thursday Jul 22, 2021   
A little less than two weeks ago (July 9th, 2021), the California electricity grid was dealt a pretty harsh blow as the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon ignited the area around the AC transmission line that connects the Pacific Northwest electrical grid to that of Northern California.  As a result of the fire's particulates and smoke, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) operators de-rated the line from 4.4 GW down to .428 GW in a moments notice so that some sort of arcing would not occur and create bigger issue over time.  To keep the grid's frequency in check, the DC transmission line that connects the Pacific Northwest to Southern California needed to be reduced as it went from 3.1 GW to 1.5 GW at the same time.  Both lines held the de-rate capacity over the weekend ... » read more
Wednesday Jul 21, 2021   
The spreads to ship U.S. LNG abroad just keep getting stronger and stronger.  The latest lever has been a record-setting heatwave hitting Europe the past 14 days.  This perpetuates a summer of extraordinary heat both in Europe and Asia, keeping global LNG demand figures strong this summer. The EU is experiencing a heat wave with record-setting temperatures.  The UK national weather service has issued a variety of "extreme heat" warnings effective through Friday.  This is the first time in the history of the national weather office that a heat warning has been issued.  While the central and southern tier of continental EU is getting saturated with intense rains and devastating flooding, just north of that weather system record high temperatures are being challenged ... » read more
Tuesday Jul 20, 2021   
The month of July has delivered temperatures across the East, Midwest and South Central that are more geared towards the end of spring and not that of the middle of July.  As a result, the power demand numbers have been coming in below that of last year and with incremental renewable penetration across ERCOT and MISO, we are looking at net load numbers that move even lower compared to the 2019 July campaign. Figure 1 | Weather Forecast Degree Days Compared to 7/20/2021 The table above displays the current weighted average temperature for each region we monitor when it comes to weather cities across the Lower 48. The black highlighted temperature column represents July 20th, 2021 and the respective forecast, the cells to the left are the actual deviation from today's forecast ... » read more
Monday Jul 19, 2021   
There is an old saying that is referenced with one is in a hurry and needs to get out the door.  It is referenced in sports as the team that is behind needs to start making a dent into the deficit that is in play.  In essence, the reference is that something needs to be done as time is passing quickly; in simple terms it means to hurry up!!!.  In the energy market, the clock seems to ticking in the west when it comes to Mother Nature and her push to keep heat in the mix, bring on dry lightning thunderstorms and ravish the hillsides with fires that are as far north as Western Canada and all the way down into the Desert Southwest and Southern California.  Firefighters are working so hard and I am sure the feel they are up against the clock when it comes to ... » read more
Friday Jul 16, 2021   
Over a week after the flames began in Southern Oregon, the Bootleg fire remains the largest wildfire currently burning in the United States, covering an area more than 227,000 acres.  Figure 1 shows a satellite image of the Bootleg fire raging on the evening of the 14th.  As can be seen from the image, the size and scope of the blaze has been massive, interfering with transmission from the Northwest down into California as the smoke and flames led to both the AC and DC lines being derated starting last Friday afternoon.  The DC transmission was impacted until this past Tuesday, with AC transmission taking longer to be fully restored.  In the DA schedules for today, the flows along PACI into CAISO are still 800 MW below the levels seen last during the evening of ... » read more
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