Typically, spring is a season of low electricity and natural gas demand as heating demands from the winter fades away and cooling demand tends to be low until it starts ramping up closer to the summer. This year though, there are several factors that could potentially buck the bearish trend that has been in play since 2014.
During the fall, meteorologists sharpen their assumption to build their probability weighted winter weather forecast scenarios. From an energy perspective, this is also a critical time of the year. Since it is typically a period of low energy demand, there tend to be seasonal dips that provide good buying opportunities in natural and electricity. This year though, natural gas prices have been seesawing since mid-July 2014 due to the following reasons:
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Natural gas inventories have recovered significantly after reaching an 11-year record low of 822Bcf in late March-2014. During the last nine weeks, natural gas injections into storage have outperformed historical levels, and eight of them exceeded 100Bcf/week. Moreover, the last nine injections have exceeded the five-year average gains by 24Bcf on average. The drivers behind these above normal injections are the following:
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On Friday, February 28, ERCOT published its 2014 Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report. Resource adequacy has been at the forefront of ERCOT’s electricity policy debate. Forecasting future demand is critical for planning purposes to determine how much generation will be needed in future years to meet peak demand. Resource adequacy concerns have prompted the PUCT to approve mechanisms that increase the duration and frequency of scarcity pricing signals in ERCOT to support adequate generation development in the state. One measure, that has also encouraged some Commercial and Industrial customers to take advantage of higher prices through prices response (load shedding and Distributed Generation (DG) dispatch), is the October 2012 decision to increase the system-wide offer cap to the following levels, effective on the dates below:
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There has been significant debate, quite heated at times, surrounding the future structure of the Texas electricity market that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages. The discussion has been centered on several topics, including how to ensure that there is sufficient generation capacity in the state to meet future electricity needs. On October 25, 2013, without a final vote, two out of the three Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) commissioners expressed support for a mandatory reserve margin to address resource adequacy concerns. At this time, ERCOT’s board does not plan to take action on proposed changes to the target reserve margin until the PUCT provides further direction. In the meantime, ERCOT has been working on revamping its load forecasting assumptions and its methodologies are being re-examined and may be more important than ever. ERCOT’s staff has also been working to refine its load forecast models and process, and will update the board on these proposed changes on December, 10,2013. Therefore, the release of the next Capacity, Demand and Reserve report will be postponed.