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Thursday Sep 2, 2021   
The summer months in ERCOT have been quite different compared to previous years for a lot of reasons but the one that sticks out the most is tied to the real-time price action across the board.  For example, the forward curve always put a premium to July and August as the power demand hourly profile was at its peak given the fact that AC units usually ran around the clock for long periods.  On the supply side, the supply stack would work through the lower cost units only to be left with the units that sat in the steeper portion of the curve.  Throw in the fact that ERCOT had the Operating Reserve Demand Curve (ORDC) uplift charge incorporated into their model/calculation.  The trigger for such the uplift charge was when the reserve levels reduced to a threshold that ... » read more
Wednesday Sep 1, 2021   
A couple of days before Ida formed into a full-fledged hurricane, forecasts indicated the storm would strengthen and take aim at Mexico.  Instead, Mexico was almost completely spared the effects of Ida, but the country did not experience such luck earlier in August.  Nor is Mexico even close to being out of the woods for the remainder of the 2021 hurricane season.  Mexico can get hit by storms off both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  In general, tropical storm season tends to be demand-destructive, which – in turn – can cut U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico by some pretty large daily numbers.  Although, there is history of tropical storms being disruptive to Mexico’s own productive capacity, too.  Since Mexico’s tropical storm season ... » read more
Tuesday Aug 31, 2021   
It has been three days since Ida landed on the Louisiana Coast as a category 4 storm with wind speeds up to 150 miles per hour. Ida hit the New Orleans area exactly eleven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005 but fortunately the damage reports have not come in as severe as that event. Currently there are over 1 million people without electricity in the metro area and one hundred thousand outages in Mississippi. Fortunately the loss of life has been minimal. Because the entire Louisiana Coast is without service it is hampering efforts to bring off shore oil and natural gas production back to market.  Figure 1 | Power Outages Map as of Tuesday Morning As a precautionary measure platforms were evacuated on Friday dropping Gulf natural gas receipts by 1 BCF per day. » read more
Monday Aug 30, 2021   
California saw some heat last week that changed the supply/demand balance to which drove the overall natural gas demand in Southern California to a level that warranted SoCal Citygate to move back up to $7.16 level.  Such a level pushed the California Citygate spread out to $1.83, this was after a week where SoCal Citygate settled under its counterpart to the north.  The reason behind all of this commotion is the simple fact that the SoCal Gas demand (Sendouts) rose above the total import volume that was flowing on a typical summer day.  When this occurs, storage gas is going to be needed and the cost to the system operators increases instantaneously.  We have seen this occur over the years so it was not too surprising to say the least. Figure 1 | SoCal vs. PGAE ... » read more
Friday Aug 27, 2021   
By Tim Belden A few weeks back I wrote about the signs of a bull market in natural gas and electricity – or at least perhaps the end of what has been a 5+ year systemic bear market in North American electricity and natural gas commodities. The energy-related bull markets are everywhere. The labor market for experienced energy personnel is red hot. Just ask anyone looking for a job or trying to hire someone. I know of a person with 15 years of experience in the biz who is not actively looking for a job who keeps receiving unsolicited, inbound inquiries. He waits. The inquiries keep coming and getting increasingly rich. When people started dangling 150% of his current comp package things start to look interesting. Companies in the “energy transitions” niche are in the ... » read more
Thursday Aug 26, 2021   
The Deep Freeze that hit Texas in February created shockwaves that are still being felt today, and likely will continue to be into the future.  The extreme (by Texas standards) cold created a cornucopia of factors - each potentially debilitating on their own - that crashed the grid.  Nearly 4.5 million customers lost power and heat, a situation that proved fatal.  Those that remained online ended up paying prices that obliterated previous record highs.  In our Energy GPS ERCOT subscription package we issue market alerts during timely market events.  Typically these amount to 2 or 3 per week; during the Deep Freeze, we were putting out 2-3 per day as market conditions were evolving so rapidly, with each movement featuring massive moves. A decent portion of the ... » read more
Wednesday Aug 25, 2021   
Over the past several months, the West Power market has been at the forefront of many conversations as it was just over a year ago when California was in the mist of rolling energy blackouts for a two-day period and the Desert Southwest was dealing with plus 120 degree daytime highs for multiple days in a row.  The Pacific Northwest sat back and basically watched as both of its counterparts were reeling.  Some of the comfort came from the simple fact that there was transmission capacity de-rateshappening and a power load profile that was being impacted by the pandemic along with moderate temperatures. The biggest contributing factor to the comfort of the Pacific Northwest market participants was the simple fact that the 2020 Water Year was such that the late coolness kept the ... » read more
Tuesday Aug 24, 2021   
Dominion Transmission, which is now called Berkshire Hathaway Energy, is the regional utility for Western Pennsylvania. It is also the native utility for the major producing area of the Marcellus shale basin. Since the start of the production boon more than a decade ago, the receipts on the system have overwhelmed the demand and export capabilities often leading to full storage conditions at the end of the refill season in September and October. This was an annual problem because it also timed with fall maintenance work. These two conditions bound up the ability to handle the surging production volumes sometimes leading to producer shut-ins. It has happened so often that the basis futures have built in a large discount on the curve as if this was as regular as the sun rising in the ... » read more
Monday Aug 23, 2021   
California continues to be in the spotlight as the 2021 summer months were touted as one for the ages given the grid saw rolling blackouts a year prior and the request for more capacity needed came at the end of June as summer was fast approaching.  Since that time, the California system operator (CAISO) has been able to keep the overall auction clears substantially low compared to that of their neighbors to the north and east.  It should be noted, with moderate temperatures in all three regions as of late, neither the Midc nor Palo Verde has been able to get off the ground either as the former has plenty of hydro and wind hitting the grid while the latter is hedged near the peak of a load profile that was anticipating the daytime highs in Phoenix and surrounding areas topping ... » read more
Friday Aug 20, 2021   
Last week we wrote about the high but stagnant CAISO prices and their implications for battery operations. This was coming off the tail end of a few pretty eventful weeks in the region—high temperatures meant high loads, thermal units running around the clock, and gas prices which for most of the summer have been trending above last year by a wide margin. The graph below shows SoCal Citygate gas pricing from June through August for 2020 (yellow line) and 2021 (blue line). Figure 1: SoCal Citygate gas prices for June-August 2020 and 2021.  Heading into this week, there were a lot of factors working against balancing the CAISO grid. It started with a constraint on the transmission line between southern California and Palo Verde, where the CAISO tends to import power on a daily ... » read more
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