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Thursday Jan 10, 2019   
While I was out on a walk through the park, I noticed smoke billowing out of a chimney in the distance. I couldn’t help but think of how coal generation had ramped earlier this winter and wondered if this was still the case. As I reached my computer the following day, started to look at the coal to gas ratio and noticed that it had plummeted drastically from the end of 2018. Zooming in on the PJM market, I noticed the two fuels had dropped from the nearly equal levels at the end of 2018. Natural gas had returned as the primary fossil fuel in the market. First, I took a look at the levels of thermal generation throughout the region. Demand from the thermal stack appeared to be higher in November and December of 2018. Could it possibly be the next tier of coal was needed to meet the ... » read more
Wednesday Jan 9, 2019   
Yesterday morning on my drive into work, I got a call from my mother, who still lives in God's Country (Wisconsin).  At this stage in my parents life, my heart starts pounding for all the wrong reasons as the first thought is something must have happened back home.  To my joy, it was just a friendly call to see how the kids are doing and to make sure they liked all the Christmas baking she sent along with the gifts.  By the time I got to work, I felt I knew everything that was going on in my hometown and then some.  I said I had to go and thanked her for calling as my heart was in the right place and it brightened my day. Prior to the phone call (earlier in the morning), i was staring at the weather model runs as the other Mother (Mother Nature) I have been known ... » read more
Tuesday Jan 8, 2019   
Recent weakness in the daily supply demand balancing has allowed the cash prices along the Gulf to drop back below the futures prices. This reverses a trend that has been in place since June with cash rices remaining well over the futures values. The result is that we have been getting significant storage injections at the salt storage facilities throughout the EIA South Central region. Because the LNG storage facilities also have on site discretionary storage capacity, The price signal incentivizes that capacity to fill as well. It is one of the reasons why sendouts at these export facilities have set new highs over the past week.     Figure 1 | Total LNG Sendouts by Facility Corpus Christi has also increased the feed gas into the site as the facility ... » read more
Monday Jan 7, 2019   
Over the years prior to our eCommerce Newsletter package we discussed the Renewable penetration across all of North America as part of our North American Power and Natural Gas product.  The conversation quickly reverts to the power burn component of the supply/demand balance as any increases/decrease in the hourly wind/solar profiles hit the thermal (coal/natural gas) stack.  We have see the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) tied to the State of California change both the power and natural gas landscape over the years as both utility-scaled and behind the meter solar capacity has risen to all-time records as of late. Figure 1 | California Utility-Scaled Solar Breakdown - Monthly The top pane represents the flat (24 hour) capacity factor, which takes the daily average output ... » read more
Friday Jan 4, 2019   
Prior to October 8th, 2018, the Pacific Northwest was all about the upcoming hydro season and how California's gas situation might impact the transmission flows on both the AC and DC interties.  That all changed when the Enbridge pipeline explosion near Shelley, British Columbia occurred that late afternoon.  The ball of fire that filled the air was due to a rupture in the 36 inch pipe that moved gas from the northern most production region down Vancouver, BC via the Huntingdon compressor.  After the demand off-take for both rescom and industrial were factored in, the net gas volumes were sent down to the Pacific Northwest via the Sumas compressor on Northwest Pipeline (NWP). Figure 1 | Enbridge Pipeline Explosion The physical market sent a strong price signal the ... » read more
Thursday Jan 3, 2019   
In contrast to 2017-2018, temperatures remained mild over the winter holiday this year. Additionally, the surge in gas prices earlier has reverted back towards normal driving down fuel costs. These factors kept prices down throughout the Northeast causing efficient generators with cheap fuel costs to remain on the margin. However, the weather cooled back down as the holiday season came to a close. The lower temperatures drove up demand which acted synergistically as offices opened back up for business. Taking a look at figure 1, the cool down appears to be transient with temperatures only sticking below average for the day. This was Mother Nature’s way of giving a splash of cold water in the face in order to wake the market back up after the holiday. Figure 1 | Temperatures in ... » read more
Wednesday Jan 2, 2019   
As I kept an eye on the natural gas forward curve over the holidays, the lyrics from Soul II Soul's 'Back to Life' was stuck in my head.  The opening lines go like this: ' Back to life, back to reality,back to life, back to reality,back to life, back to reality,back to the here and now yeah' Starting in November, the forward natural gas curve caught a bid as colder weather was settling in across North America, the Lower 48 storage deficit was still well below 2017 levels and the power burn component was still riding a 4-5 BCF/d delta consumption rate as the gas to coal switching seemed to be inelastic as outages were still in play and the simple fact that coal retirements/new natural gas builds were still impacting the baseload demand for electricity.  The combination of ... » read more
Monday Dec 31, 2018   
If you look back on the electricity and natural gas market, every year has some sort of story tied to it as Mother Nature has a say in what happens from a demand standpoint when it comes to both heating and cooling demand across all of North America.  Over the past decade, we have seen the migration of production move inland as fracking in the Marcellus and South Central regions moved to the forefront of conversation the past 3-4 years.  On the power side, everyone has endured the Renewable conversations tied to wind and solar.  When this narrative all started, the eyes were on the State of California as their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) took center stage.   Figure 1 | Lower 48 - Renewable Standards by State - February 2017 By February 2017, 29 states ... » read more
Friday Dec 28, 2018   
As the year comes to a close, it’s a good time to take a look at how the renewable fleet has grown over the last several years. There are a lot of sources of renewable data including EIA, industry groups, individual balancing authorities, state sources, and others. There are different sources for utility scale versus behind the meter. It can take quite a bit of work to stitch these various data sources together to get a total view of renewables. Our favorite (although not complete) source of renewable data comes from hourly dispatch data published by each RTO/ISO (hereafter, referred to as RTOs). All of the RTOs publish a set of hourly data for either wind, solar, or both. The hourly data enables a great deal of analysis since the renewable production data can be combined with ... » read more
Thursday Dec 27, 2018   
The Winter Reliability Program made its way out the door with winter 2017-2018 being the last season the program would be in place. This was replaced by Pay for Performance which contains significantly different mechanisms to provide grid reliability. With the new regime going into effect June 1st, generators have already begun to reflect a shift in oil reserves. Pay for Performance aims to incentivize generation during energy shortages. The program goes into effect on a system wide basis when the ISO begins to dip into ten minute reserves. As this happens, generators are then judged based on fulfillment of their capacity supply obligation which has already been allocated. Facilities that are short during this period are penalized using a $2000 per MWh payment rate which is then ... » read more
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