Deep cold sends energy prices rising in U.S. Northeast

A blast of bitterly cold temperatures has driven up spot power and natural gas prices in the Northeast, according to data posted Jan. 7 by the Energy Information Administration (EIA)

New York City showed a spot power price of $120.67/MWh and New England had a spot power price of $101.87/MWh. The Mid-Atlantic wasn’t far behind at $81.83/MWh, according to GenerationHub.

The Mid-Atlantic recorded the highest increase in spot power prices from the prior business day at almost 107 percent.

The wintry weather also drove up spot natural gas prices in the Northeast. New York City also had the highest spot natural gas price at $18.11/mmBtu. The Mid-Atlantic and New England also showed spot natural gas prices in the teens.

The spark spread, a metric used to estimate profitability of natural gas-fired electric generation, was listed at zero, according to the EIA figures.

“Temperatures are in the single digits across the Northeast driving strong demand this morning and this is expected to persist through tomorrow,” Genscape Regional Director for New York and New England Natalia Mestvirishvili said. “Oil units are ramping up in the real time across New England,” she added.

The cold temperatures and high prices bring to mind last year’s ‘polar vortex,’ which triggered numerous studies by analysts and planning sessions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and regional transmission organizations.

The system operators are “definitely better prepared this year,” Mestvirishvili added.

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