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This summer, temperatures in Texas have been significantly higher than average, with record-breaking ERCOT demands and Real-Time prices reaching their maximum cap on multiple days in both June and August. In fact, between June and August, ERCOT eclipsed the 2022 maximum demand of 80,148 MW on 47 different days, with this summer’s maximum of 85,464 MWs set on August 10. Figure 1 shows the effect of the record breaking heat on spot electricity prices in North Texas in the months of June through August,
With growing energy demand in Texas, there is a need for more power-generating resources to maintain the grid's reliability and to ensure there is a balance between available power supplies and demand. Intermittent sources like wind and solar cannot be dispatched on-demand, making it unreliable during hours when electricity supplies are tight.
This summer, the grid’s vulnerability to insufficient reserve margins was demonstrated multiple times after the sun set, solar output dropped to zero, and wind output was low due to insufficient wind speeds across the state. Ancillary services are ERCOT’s market mechanism to ensure that power-generating assets are on standby and available to produce electricity on days when solar and wind outputs are low and demand on the grid is high.
Before this summer, there were four market-procured ancillary services: Regulation Up, Regulation Down, Responsive Reserve Service, and Non-Spin Reserve Service. A few years ago, ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) decided these four services were insufficient to provide adequate levels of responsive reserves. To address this need, ERCOT added a fifth ancillary service, the first to be added since the market opened in 2002, called ERCOT Contingency Reserve Service (ECRS), which went into effect on June 10, 2023.
ECRS can be seen as an intermediate product between Non-Spin and Responsive Reserve capacity that can respond within 10 minutes to address operational issues. These services secure additional power capacity beyond regular supply and are purchased in the Day-Ahead Market. This new ancillary service is intended to address unforeseen disruptions like generator failures or sudden demand spikes and to provide a rapid response backup to the grid. These contingency reserves are provided by power plants (or other resources such as load) that are capable of quickly ramping up their generation (or reducing their consumption) to help balance the grid during times of reduced reserves.
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Many are surprised to learn that there are several cost components that are added together to establish the rate in cents per kilowatt-hour in an electricity supply contract. Those components are summarized in Figure 1, which shows that the two largest are energy and capacity. It’s important to note that both energy and capacity are market-based, which means that the price of both is based on the forces of supply and demand. And while it may not be obvious, regulations and legislation can have a significant effect on the forces of supply and demand and thus the power markets. Between April 2018 and May 2019, the price of energy in New York City increased nearly 40% largely driven by a carbon tax proposed by the NYISO. Doubts around implementing that carbon tax caused prices to dramatically fall to just fourteen months later. This is an example of how regulatory forces can move market prices. Today, regulations in New York State are causing a dramatic increase in the price of capacity, the second largest cost component in a retail electricity supply price (See Figure 1).
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One of the most utilized pieces of fundamental analysis in the natural gas industry is the Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) Natural Gas Storage Report, which is released every Thursday morning at 10:30 ET. This report summarizes the results of a weekly survey of most natural gas storage facilities across the US and shows how much natural gas the nation has in storage. It also gives a regional breakdown, along with a reference to normal storage levels for each week of the year as shown in Figure 1. Many industry analysts use this data and the amount of natural gas in storage compared to what is normal (the 5-year average is commonly used) to understand and forecast natural gas prices.
Topics: Markets Natural Gas
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Given that we are halfway through July, we thought it would be appropriate to provide an update on how major power markets have performed as they relate to each ISO’s coincident peak demand management program.
So far, both weather and demand on the PJM and NYISO grids have been mild compared to recent summers and average summer temperatures. The mean temperature, compared to the average over the last thirty, fourteen, and seven days for the period ending July 13, is shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3 below. These charts show that summer has not really arrived in the middle of the country and that temperatures in the Northeast are only 2º to 3º F above the average.
Topics: Markets PJM NYISO ERCOT Demand Response Resiliency
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Why Install Electric Vehicle Chargers?