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MISO gas-fired generation falls 17pc in March

12 May 2017 16:29 (+01:00 GMT)
MISO gas-fired generation falls 17pc in March

Houston, 12 May (Argus) — Natural gas-fired generation in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) footprint fell in March from a year earlier amid rising gas prices and higher wind and coal generation.

Gas accounted for 22.2pc of the MISO generation fuel mix in March, down from 26.5pc a year earlier, according to the grid operator. The data implies electricity generation from gas-fired power plants in the MISO area decreased by 17pc in March from a year earlier to about 10.5TWh.

Total electric demand in that month fell by 1pc from a year earlier to about 47.4TWh.

Rising gas prices and a warmer-than-normal winter have cut power sector gas demand in the earlier months as well. Gas-fired generation in the first quarter is down by about 28pc from a year earlier, according to MISO data.

Total electric demand in the first quarter of 2017 was down by 6pc from a year earlier.

Spot gas prices at key midcontinent hub like the Chicago Citygates in the first quarter averaged $2.97/mmBtu, up by 47pc from a year earlier. Prices in March were 59pc higher than March 2016.

Meanwhile, prices for Illinois basin coal in March was down by 1.7pc from a year earlier, according to MISO.

The lower coal prices could have incentivized utilities to dispatch more coal-fired generation.

Coal accounted for 42.2pc of MISO fuel-mix in March, up from 40.5pc a year earlier. That translates to utilities in the region dispatching about 20TWh in March to meet demand, 3pc higher than March 2016.

Coal generation in the first quarter was less than 1pc lower from last year.

Wind accounted for 11.4pc of the MISO March generation fuel mix, producing about 5.4TWh, 25pc more than last year. Wind generation in the first quarter was up by 16pc from a year earlier.

Gas-burn this summer should pick up from current levels, MISO said.

"Compared to last year, we expect similar gas generation for the summer [and] capacity use will be largely driven by price," MISO said.

MISO expects peak electricity demand this summer will be 125GW, 3.6pc higher than last summer's actual peak load of 120.7GW based on forecasts of a warmer-than-normal season.

Longer term, the midcontinent operator continues to see the resource fleet mix in the region transition from coal to more gas, wind and solar.

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