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Thursday Feb 9, 2023   
With temperatures up a little this week in the Pacific Northwest after a some chilly weather to end January and start off the month of February last week, we’ve seen a marked change in PNW Hydro production.  During  last week’s cold the hydro system ramped up to provide over 14 GW of heavy-load generation on the first of the month.  Since then, it’s pulled back sharply to give under 10.5 GW the past three days.  This is more in line with the way the water year has played out with precipitation and snowpack lagging behind normal levels.  Last Thursday, the Northwest River Forecast Center gave a webinar presentation with their February Water Supply Forecast Briefing—a good resource to get a sense of how the water year has evolved up to this ... » read more
Wednesday Feb 8, 2023   
At the start of 2023, the West was coming out of a months-long stretch of below normal temperatures while the East was recovering from deadly storms. The country breathed a big sigh of relief as January came and went with mild temperatures from coast to coast. The Northeast saw the warmest January on record with some cities seeing above normal temperatures every day. In the West, bursts of cold hit the Pacific Northwest but the ice storms were left behind in 2022. California felt the warmth in the first half of the month, but it came along with buckets of rain causing flooding, destruction, and a boost to the hydro system. In our January monthly, it’s out with the cold and in with the new year as we look at how January warming and weather impacted power and natural gas markets ... » read more
Tuesday Feb 7, 2023   
Back in August of 2021 the El Paso Pipeline, which runs from West Texas to the state of California, suffered a rupture along its South Mainline just south of Coolidge, Arizona. The explosion had the force of over 2000 pounds of TNT killing two people and prompting a full scale investigation by the NTSB into the root causes. The pipe was built in 1986 and was intended to carry crude oil from the Permian Basin into the West. By 2001 the pipe was converted into natural gas. This was a common practice throughout the country as the fuel gained more uses for heating and power generation. In the aftermath of the explosion Kinder Morgan, the owner of the pipeline, cut the throughput of the ruptured segment by .54 BCF constricting the gas supply into Arizona and California. Figure 1 | ElPaso ... » read more
Monday Feb 6, 2023   
Brrrrr, the northeast weather that ended the week was record setting but like a good ole Calgary Chinook wind pattern, Sunday’s temperatures were substantially warmer across the board.  This has led to a substantially different balancing act compared to what transpired last Thursday for the final day of the workweek. Figure 1 | Polar Vortex – Chinook Winds The instant change in the weather pattern was seen across other parts of the country a few days earlier as the South Central started to see its wind pick up come Friday while the power demand numbers faded into the sunset as northern Texas saw the last of the earlier snowfall finally melt while the rest of Texas saw the sunshine that increased the solar output on the grid. Figure 2 | ERCOT Supply/Demand Breakdown ... » read more
Friday Feb 3, 2023   
Once again, ERCOT has been hit with a winter storm that’s wreaked some amount of havoc among Texas residents. This past week saw sub-freezing, well-below-normal temperatures for a handful of days in a row, and freezing rain that knocked down trees and caused extensive power outages throughout a number of regions. Figure 1 | Impact of Freezing Rain in Austin, from Austin American-Statesman   Although a stretch of unusual cold weather and precipitation during February in Texas immediately calls to mind comparisons to Winter Storm Uri in 2021, the ERCOT grid has certainly fared better this time around. But that’s not to say that it’s been an uneventful week. The image below shows our ERCOT Real Time Dashboard: Figure 2 | ERCOT RT Dashboard, 1/27/2023 – ... » read more
Thursday Feb 2, 2023   
After a tumultuous end to last year that brought frigid winter weather to much of the country over Christmas weekend, the start of 2023 brought a welcome change.  By comparison, for most of January the climate was positively mild.  Total rescom demand for natural gas in the lower 48 states averaged 38 BCF, down 2 BCF from December’s demand and nearly 9 BCF lower than the considerably colder January of 2022.  Just as the mother nature brought a rapid flash of cold to much of the country at the end of December, she is doing a similar thing to finish off the month of January and start off the month of February with a bang.  The winter chill has been felt all this week, making its way from the Pacific Northwest over to the Rockies and down into the South-Central ... » read more
Wednesday Feb 1, 2023   
Spring is still more than a month and a half away, but some nuclear plants are getting an early jump on outage season. Hatch 2, a 935 MW plant located in Georgia, is the first nuclear plant to completely power down in 2023 for its refueling cycle. The plant reached 100% offline on Sunday, January 29th. These shutdowns allow for important regular maintenance and are usually done in the spring and fall when temperatures and loads are mild. With a warm start to the year and more mild weather in the forecast, it makes sense that some plants will be shutting down early in the season this year. The peak for nuclear outages often occurs in April (and then again in October), but we’ll see outages rise over the course of the next couple months as more than 35 plants have scheduled ... » read more
Tuesday Jan 31, 2023   
The eastern half of the continent has seen record warm this winter causing a large drop in heating load. As a result the storage inventory has not seen the normal draw down of stocks usually associated with the peak wiinter demand months. Per the last EIA inventory report the Midwest, East and South Central regions are a combined 159 BCF above last years inventory pace. Storage capacity holders in these regions are now forced to draw their volumes out of the caverns at sub optimal pricing in order to meet contractual end of winter obligations. Absent a cold weather event, the release of storage molecules will continue to put the downward pressure we have seen most of January in the February cash market.  At the end of the day, teh excess natural gas supply will need to find a home ... » read more
Monday Jan 30, 2023   
As a kid there always seemed to be plenty of snow on the hillside to take the red plastic sled and climb to the top and make a run, jump in and speed to the bottom to which the hope was to not knock anyone over along the way.  There was always one or two ‘old school’ sledders who pulled their wood framed-two ski toboggan up the hill and guided it down headfirst.  The new-age way of sledding evolved into literal version of dogsledding where there was in innertube (not the kind you see from inside a tractor tire) that basically carried not only a young adult but also their family pet dog down the hill. Figure 1 |Tough Sledding? There were some winters where the sleds were not out due to the fact that Mother Nature decided that she woud not be delivering the snow ... » read more
Friday Jan 27, 2023   
In his iconic song from 1972, Albert Hammond lamented “it never rains in Southern California, but girl, don’t they warn ‘ya, it pours, man, it pours.” Musical metaphor and poetry aside, weather was the big story this past month in California leading renewables to stage their version of Rochambeau. Heavy, persistent rain and snow in early January made a big shift in the Golden State energy picture for the weeks and months ahead. Reservoirs are filling up and as shown in Figure 1, a rapidly growing snowpack will likely bring a much-improved hydro year compared to the last couple of years. This topic was also discussed in EGPS’s recent special report, titled ‘California’s Hydro Helpfulness’. Whenever we try and harvest resources tied to ... » read more
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