Natural gas, electric power prices inch upward

Temperatures are climbing in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic while spot natural gas and electric prices are inching up in most areas and only a couple of the nation’s 100 nuclear power units are currently offline as of June 16.

That’s a thumbnail assessment of some key market indicators based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

On the nuclear power front, only two of the nation’s 100 nuclear units were listed as not generating power on June. The Public Service Enterprise Group Salem 2 plant in the Northeast and the Duke Energy Catawba 1 facility in the Southeast are the only two plants listed with zero generation, according to GenerationHub.

Duke Energy has retired its Crystal River 3 nuclear plant in Florida. On June 16, Duke said it was planning a July open house at a combined-cycle gas plant site that it plans to develop at Crystal River.

The new combined-cycle plant will be located on 400 acres near the existing Crystal River station. If all necessary approvals and permits are received, construction is expected to start in early 2016. The plant’s first 820 MW are expected to come online in spring 2018, and the second 820 MW are expected to come online by December 2018.

It appears that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Sequoyah 2 is returning to service given that it was listed at 15 percent generation on June 16. In addition the Entergy Arkansas Nuclear 2 unit has now returned to 100 percent generation output, according to NRC’s daily reactor status report.

As far as spot power prices, they were up in eight of the 10 regions monitored by EIA. Spot natural gas prices were up in nine of the 10 regions.

The Mid-Atlantic reported the highest spark spread of any area in the country at $30.72/MWh. The Mid-Atlantic reported one of the lowest spot gas prices in the nation at $3.10/mmBtu while having one of the highest power prices at $52.73/MWh.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service was predicting high temperatures in the 90s all the way from Florida through Baltimore. Meanwhile Phoenix was expected to be above 100 degrees.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 22 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.

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