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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
Thursday Jan 26, 2023   
As the Pacific Northwest heads swiftly towards the end of this week and the transition to the next that will bring a significant chill into the region, the conditions on the grid are such that every MW will be needed.  Peak loads are expected to climb by over 4 GW from today to next Monday and the Northwest continues to be tighter this year than last in the thermal stack, with gas-fired generation up by over one third compared to last January.  All eyes will be on the Northwest hydro system as other regions in the West will be tightening as well with Eastside flows likely pulling back as the Rockies grow colder and Mid-C already priced between SP15 and NP15 in CAISO.  Hydro output in the Northwest will likely need a boost next week to aid the balancing while current flows ... » read more
Wednesday Jan 25, 2023   
With attempts at mitigating the impacts of climate change at the Colorado River Basin stalled, the City of Page has moved onto adapting to the increasingly likely worst-case scenario predictions. A new water intake valve was installed at Glen Canyon dam at the end of 2022. This will allow the city and parts of Navajo nation to continue receiving water even when Lake Powell, located behind the dam, drops 8 feet below the ‘dead pool’ level. Construction wrapped right as the water level at Lake Powell fell below the target level of elevation of 3,525 ft, just 35 feet over the minimum level needed for power generation and 55 feet over dead pool level. At passing this level for the second time in 2022, the Bureau of Reclamation announced adjustments to monthly releases for the dam ... » read more
Tuesday Jan 24, 2023   
Canada has been suffering the same fate as the Lower 48 for the month of January. Most of the country has seen record warmth keeping the gas demand subdued. Alberta consumption on the Nova system has averaged only 6.7 BCF per day which is .6 BCF lower than expected for a typical January. Total natural gas storage draws have been only 19 BCF through the first 24 days of the month. If the temperatures had cooperated the system would have drawn double that amount. For weeks the lack of storage activity looked as if it would erase the year on year inventory deficit. Coming into the month the inventory was at a five year low and 40 BCF behind last January's levels. That is now down to only 8 BCF after just a few weeks.  Figure 1 | Alberta NG Storage Inventory for 2020 - 2023 But that is ... » read more
Monday Jan 23, 2023   
The situation in CAISO (and much of the western United States) that is producing natural gas prices consistently above $20 per MMBtu and pushing electricity prices far above seasonal norms.  The last couple of months CAISO has been experiencing a significant deficit in import megawatts flowing into its system from the Pacific Northwest (and recently the Desert Southwest with the Palo Verde line derate) compared to previous winters.  The cold and dry weather in the Northwest produced lackluster river flows, limiting PNW hydro production and forcing the Northwest region to reduce transmission flows South to keep more of the needed MW at home.  The new Washington carbon regime has complicated transmission deals as well.  All these factors are forcing CAISO to rely heavily ... » read more
Friday Jan 20, 2023   
The rains hitting California have received a lot of news this year – and for good reason. Epic storms have caused property damage, flooding, and sadly, loss of life. The state, which has been in a multi-year drought, is getting too much of a good thing. The image below shows state-wide Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) expressed as a percentage of normal where 100% is equal to April 1st SWE on an average year. April 1st is selected as the benchmark date because that is typically when SWE hits its maximum for the season. Figure 1 | California Snow Water Percentage of Normal The SWE for this season is already above the maximum for the last several years and is about 120% of an average April 1st level. This is good news for California reservoirs and California hydro production. The figure ... » read more
Wednesday Jan 18, 2023   
It has been well documented in the local papers that California natural gas prices have been at extremely high levels since the start of the winter season.  The reason for such a move starts with the Pacific Northwest power market pricing itself to keep megawatts at home due to the regional hydro landscape fundamentals starting the new water year out quite dry.  Throw in the fact that the weather pattern was below normal throughout November and well-below normal the last month of 2022 in across the entire West.  The combination of the two weather-driven events put a lot of pressure on the California natural gas entities PGAE and SoCal Gas as their transport volume was not enough so the in-state thermal stack was needed to balance the power demand for both CAISO and ... » read more
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