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Friday Feb 26, 2021   
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) recently published a report examining the effects of solar deployment in the U.S. With results for not only the seven ISOs, but also for ten non-ISO utilities in the west and southeast, "Solar-to-Grid: Trends in System Impacts, Reliability, and Market Value in the United States" is a comprehensive examination of solar energy and resulting market outcomes. The analysis of the southeastern utilities is particularly interesting as data from that region tends to be sparse. It’s unfortunate that no analysis of the northwest was included, as the report lacks only that to cover the entirety of the continental states. However, this is overall a good, comprehensive report that provides a lot of detail without getting bogged down in the weeds. While ... » read more
Thursday Feb 25, 2021   
It has been less than a week since Mother Nature was putting her final stamp on the South Central weather pattern that turned the regional natural gas and electricity markets upside down.  The indicators of such an event were in the 15-day forecast as we started the month but nobody was equating it to one of the coldest events to every hit the region.  As we got closer to the long President's Day weekend (13th-15th), the electricity market was putting a premium on that Monday/Tuesday time period as nobody wanted to be caught short per se.  The natural gas market caught wind of such prices in the middle of February along with West Texas oil producers starting to show some concern for their respective wells as the colder weather was low enough to cause what is known as ... » read more
Wednesday Feb 24, 2021   
Lost amid the cataclysmic shock inflicted on the Texas and South Central energy markets last week were the record-setting bouts of volatility that have hit Canadian power and gas markets this month.   Thankfully, what happened in Canada did not result in power outages with lethal consequences, but - within the context of the energy world - the Canadian events were noteworthy.  They provided graphic demonstrations of the structural shifts the markets have been undergoing and the exaggerative effect cold weather can have.  Because weather forecasts gave solid indication cold was approaching, we were able to get ahead of these events and put forecasts out indicating records were about to be broken. At Energy GPS we provide dashboards that give real-time snapshots of B.C. » read more
Tuesday Feb 23, 2021   
Last week provided the biggest price shock in the history of the natural gas market as daily indices in Oklahoma and Texas ran up from $2.75 to $500 in a moments notice. Coming out of the long weekend and the South Central fully entrenched in a polar vortex situation, the cash price jumped up to a staggering $1,000 at OGT while the Texas trading points were starving for molecules as reserve capacity dropped to zero across the majority of intrastate pipelines. The factors that led to the dire situation were your typical freeze-offs at the wellheads as well as the actual pipeline pressure to the gas-fired power plant at dangerously low levels when heating demand tied to electricity pushed the numbers well above anything we see during the hottest of summer days. Usually constraints ... » read more
Monday Feb 22, 2021   
How Much is Enough Reliability? By Tim Belden How much reliability should consumers be required to buy? The question is rarely presented in that way, but that’s the central issue surrounding ERCOT’s unique market structure and the horrific blackouts from last week. For a moment, let’s turn the clock back a few decades to frame up the issue. Electricity deregulation (re-regulation, really) was part of a trend that included the airlines (Airline Deregulation Act of 1978), oil and gasoline (1981), telephone service (AT&T breakup mandated in 1982), the Natural Gas Wellhead Decontrol Act of 1989, and the FERC Order 636 which unbundled pipeline service in 1992. Competition in electricity generation first started with PURPA in 1978. This enabled “Qualifying ... » read more
Friday Feb 19, 2021   
By Tim Belden The electricity industry will forever remember this past week. Risk wonks will be analyzing the ERCOT price action and debating how to incorporate this risk into modeling. The governor and other elected officials will demand explanations and push for change. Policy wonks have always loved to debate the merits of ERCOT’s unique market structure, and the debate will continue with even more vigor moving forward. I’ve always had respect for ERCOT’s market structure. It is a cohesive set of policies which are designed to provide generators with strong, appropriate, hourly price signals while honoring the state’s objective of not creating stranded costs via capacity payments. Is it the best market structure in North America? Were the supply shortfalls and ... » read more
Thursday Feb 18, 2021   
This week we have noticed a number of articles about who is to blame for the energy crisis unfolding in Texas. Most of these articles are polarizing and do not take into account a full picture of the problem. There is a semblance of nuance that is missing in the dialogue. We will take the high road and assume that most of the commenters do not have a full understanding of how complicated it is to deliver energy from a source to a sink or from a well head to a furnace. But this is not stopping the flood of misinformation. These are the top ten excuses hitting the press in the past 24 hours for the balancing issues in Texas: Frozen Wind Turbines Fossil Fuel Reliance The independence of the ERCOT grid Market manipulation Market Price Caps Democrats Republicans Capitalism Oil Companies Under ... » read more
Wednesday Feb 17, 2021   
This week saw (and continues to see) North American energy markets behave in ways that were unimaginable in all but the most outlying of scenarios.  It was no secret that the coldest weather in the past several winters was en route: we issued an alert to clients in early January noting that several meteorological forecasts were indicating the potential for a polar vortex to setup.  But the intensity of the cold exposed the impacts of a variety of fundamental shifts that have been developing in the markets the past few years.  Those shifts combined with widespread supply-side disruptions to drive gas and power prices to record highs that were leagues beyond previous highs.  While the brunt of the cold action put its bullseye on Texas and the Midwest, its effects ... » read more
Tuesday Feb 16, 2021   
In sport, the saying goes 'records are meant to be broken' when an athlete or team plays at their highest level on a given day or over a period of time.  For example, a track athlete that is performing at the World Championship or Olympics runs a race for the ages and beats the World Record that has stood for decades, that is an achievement in and of itself.  In team sport, the Boston Celtics of the 50's and 60's was the team to beat as Bill Russell and company reeled off 11 championships.  Along came this athlete named Michael Jordan, who put together six NBA championships where they consisted of two three-peat runs with two years off in the middle.  The most recent record setting athlete playing in a team sport is that of Tom Brady who won his 7th Super Bowl with the ... » read more
Monday Feb 15, 2021   
The latest EnergyGPS Special Report, titled 'ERCOT's Red River Showdown', details what is happening in the Lone Star State as Mother Nature takes on the ERCOT footprint.  As it has been well documented in our ERCOT Market Flashes over the past two weeks, colder weather was going to push down from the north unlike anything the state has ever seen.  Figure 1 | Weather Pattern over the Weekend As a result of such, the power demand numbers were substantially higher compared to other winter months over the years.  In fact, as we rolled into the middle of last week, the power demand numbers were going to exceed the peak summer levels seen over the past two years if not record breaking since the inception of ERCOT. Figure 2 | ERCOT Net Load Profile - Daily The graph above ... » read more
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