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Monday Apr 9, 2018   
On April 2nd the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld last year's order to increase spill on eight federal dams on the Lower Snake and Lower Columbia rivers, beginning April 3rd and 10th respectively, and lasting through the middle of June.  The Court of Appeal's affirmation, which can be found here, will increase the amount of water that goes through the spillways during this time period up to the allowed total dissolved gas level (TDG) of each dam (varies by dam).  The increase in spill will in turn aid the downstream migration of juvenile Chinook and steelhead as they make their way to the Pacific Ocean each spring.  The further hope is that with increased survival rates for juveniles, the region will see increased rates of return for the adults.  This is ... » read more
Friday Apr 6, 2018   
On April 1st the power generation subsidiaries of First Energy submitted a chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Akron, Ohio. First Energy Corp. is the ultimate parent company for each of the Debtors (companies that filed for bankruptcy). There are essentially two subsidiaries that filed for bankruptcy. First Energy Solutions (FES) owns generation (see footnote 1) as well as long term contracts to purchase power. FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company provides operation and maintenance services to the FES nuclear plants and has 2,333 employees. FES is the market-facing entity that purchases power from the generators and sells electricity and other energy services into the market. FES has a staff of 57 people while the various subsidiaries that own generation have 686 ... » read more
Thursday Apr 5, 2018   
As I drove around town over the weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that the cherry blossom trees by the waterfront were in full bloom. The blossoms mark the beginning of spring as they only stay in full bloom for about a week before the flowers start to fade. I am glad that I won’t have to deal with the cold wet winter anymore with Portland remaining close to normal temperatures from here on out, but I can’t help feel sorry for our friends to the north in Canada that aren’t quite so fortunate. The forecast is calling for cold temperatures throughout Alberta as a purple blob covers the region. The chill isn’t just an inconvenience, but it has pushed up power prices as coal retirements, mentioned in our newsletter last week, have thrown a wrench into the ... » read more
Wednesday Apr 4, 2018   
Since the Algonquin maintenance schedule was released it was clear that April was going to be an interesting month for the Northeastern gas basis point.  Flows from the South will be cut in half as capacity through Strony Point falls to just .69 BCF for the 4th through the 18th of the month.  Figure 1| Algonquin Maintenance Schedule - 2018   The market showed signs that the gas scarcity would result in strong cash prices when AGT rallied $1.80 to settle $4.81 for Tuesday after the initial round of derates cut capacity by .5 BCF from the south.  Despite the indicator that this was going to be a rocky ride we were still surprised to see the cash price rally another $2.43 to settle $7.24 in trading yesterday morning as gas consumers down the pipe ... » read more
Tuesday Apr 3, 2018   
It has been widely anticipated that Nova Gas Transmission would finish construction on the Sundre Crossover and have the pipe ready for flow starting on April 1. The new 90 mile section of the NGTL system bypasses a congested path of the pipeline network providing an outlet of .2 BCF of new capacity to the Alberta/British Columbia Border. There it would hook up with Gas Transmission Northwest and move into the Pacific Northwest. This new space is a welcome for a region that has been over run with new producer volume over the past three years.  Figure 1 | Location of the Ninety Mile Section of Sundre Crossover   This past week, NGTL posted a letter to the NEB website notifying the Board that they discovered some issues with the pipeline just prior to operation. As a result, the ... » read more
Monday Apr 2, 2018   
Last Monday, as seen here, we spoke to the growing electricity needs of cryptocurrency miners.  They have flocked to the Pacific Northwest, seeking electricity rates in the $.2-.4/KWh range ($20-40/MWh), with a focus on the public utility districts (PUD) in the region whose primary source of electrons is hydro generation.  While the early to the game miners have been able to connect their server farms to a whole host of different PUD's, most of the utility districts have put a halt on supplying additional cryptocurrency load out of fear that incremental interconnections may require expensive transmission system upgrades to their grid, for which there is no guarantee that the miners will stick around long enough pay (substantial uncertainty on the duration of the ... » read more
Friday Mar 30, 2018   
March is almost in the books and April is right around the corner and with the new month the west will be experiencing some changes in the energy space.  The first big change is the CAISO Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) is going to get two new participants; they are PowerEx and Idaho Power.  Over the past couple of months, both parties have been testing their systems to get ready for the April 1st start date.  The key element to any participant joining is how much transmission capacity are they going to be bringing to the table.  This is important to the CAISO operators as it will allow more excess renewable generation to leave their footprint and find a home elsewhere.  As it stands right now, the known capacity for PowerEx is anywhere from 150-250 MW on ... » read more
Thursday Mar 29, 2018   
The push for lower carbon emissions across the world led Alberta, Canada to increase its carbon tax by 50% this year, which now sits at $30 per metric ton. The province currently produces 40% of emissions in the entire country of Canada, caused in part by the oil and gas industry. Over time the power sector will go through significant changes that reduce their contribution to this figure. Carbon emissions will undoubtedly decrease, but the changes will also ripple throughout the AESO market. The public simply does not want coal, and a $30/MT tax ensures that the AESO moves on from said fuel supply. All coal units will be decommissioned by 2030 to match the carbon standards put in place. While that is still a long ways away, things don’t look too bright for coal, especially when ... » read more
Wednesday Mar 28, 2018   
The spring season can be a tricky time for power markets as systems attempt to balance the natural decline in load and the uptick in maintenance.  Every spring means something difference to each region as no two Q2s are ever the alike.  In the west traders are actively monitoring the hydro system as the timing and magnitude of the snow melt can swing a massive amount of MWs between months.  Moving east slightly, ERCOT and MISO are monitoring their wind as strong winds heading into April can lead to reliability issues as falling load are unable to use all the electrons, while the grid needs to keep dispatchable resources online for contingency and regulating reserves.  This is of course all subject to the weather which can also shift wildly ... » read more
Tuesday Mar 27, 2018   
Major League Baseball is set to start up for the 2018 season on Thursday of this week. Baseball for many fans marks the start of spring but this year many parts of the country including the Midwest will have to deal with winter conditions in order to cheer on their teams. The Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates all  start home stands in conditions that will look more like February. While this is not good for baseball fans and attendance numbers it is very good for regional utilities. Space heating is expected to continue well above last years levels which will be additive to earnings.  Figure 1 | Detroit Temperature Highs, Lows and Averages for February and March 2018 Dominion is the largest gas utility in the Marcellus region. Figure 2 shows how the ... » read more
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