Feb 9, 2022 9:29:31 AM

President Biden’s plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is already taking shape. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would revisit changes made in 2020 and strengthen discharge limits for power plants' wastewater as part of this initiative.  With the implementation of these new rules, it is possible that business owners could see their power bills skyrocket and consumers will be even more at risk. Mr. Finkel  added, “If the ambition is to create death by a thousand cuts, to make it more difficult to operate, yes - that’s wildly problematic." The EPA's Regional Haze Program has been a major contributor in the effort to improve air quality which led to closure of several coal-fired power plants that emit large amounts. The new rules are aimed at shielding poor and minority neighborhoods that often get the brunt of power plant pollution, as well cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.  Jonathan Skinner-Thompson, a former EPA lawyer - a current law professor at the University of Colorado stated, “If we make [coal-fired plants] more expensive from other pollutants, rather than spend money to retrofit, it may just be better for them to shut down. Then you get the climate benefits without necessarily having to directly regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”

PJM has submitted a comprehensive proposal to FERC outlining how it will comply with Order 2222. The development of this filing is the product of extensive engagement with stakeholders, who have worked to create an approach that balances both DER aggregators’ needs for access on a level playing field while also ensuring safe and reliable operations within electric distribution systems. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • A new market participation model called the DER Aggregator Participation Model
  •  Pre-registration coordination activities between DER aggregators and distribution utilities
  •  A 60-day review period
  •  Locational requirements that support reliable operations and energy price formation
  •  Enabling of retail and wholesale participation as well as preventing double counting of the same product
  •  Balanced metering and telemetry requirements
  •  A coordination framework to balance market access 

Important Dates:

  • Feb. 2, 2026, for the Tariff, Operating Agreement and Reliability Assurance Agreement revisions
  • July 1, 2023, for a limited subset of revisions

The environmental toll of crypto mining is proving quite hefty.  Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated that, “The energy required to validate just one Ethereum transaction could power a U.S. home for more than a week, the energy required for a Bitcoin transaction could power a home for more than 70 days House Energy.” When it comes to the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining, there are many factors that need consideration. The environmental impact of a single Ethereum transaction adds more than 90 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Bitcoin transactions added more than 1,000 pounds. Together, the two biggest cryptocurrencies are responsible for emitting more than 78 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere which is equal to the annual tailpipe emissions of more than 15.5 million cars. One crypto mining company acquired two shuttered waste coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania which generated more than 150 megawatts to support its operations. The value of cryptocurrencies has increased exponentially over the last year, which means that mining rewards are now greater than ever before. This increase in profitability is creating more mining facilities entering the market - especially in Texas such as Riot Whinstone, a large mining facility in Rockdale, Texas just an hour northeast of Austin which broke ground and started operating its first gold mine back in January 2020.

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General Market Update

  • The March 2022 NYMEX Henry Hub traded to $5.501/MMBtu, up $1.22 (+28.6%) from the previous Wednesday. The price of the 12-month strip averaging March 2022 through February 2023 futures contract was up $1.00 (+23.9%) to $5.192/MMBtu.

  • Boston’s Algonquin Citygate price went down $5.85 (-28.2%) to $14.86/MMBtu last Wednesday. Transco Zone 6 NYC price decreased $5.13 (-43.0%) to $6.79/MMBtu. 

  • Pennsylvania’s Eastern Gas South rose $1.73 (+43.0%) to $5.75/MMBtu. Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus spot price increased $1.70 (+42.2%) to $5.73/MMBtu.

  • SoCal Citygate price increased $3.70 (+72.8%) to $8.78/MMBtu last Wednesday. The price at Northern California PG&E Citygate rose $1.65 (+33.4%) to $6.59/MMBtu week over week.

Storage

  • For the week ending January 28th, 2022, the EIA reported net withdrawals from storage of 268 Bcf, which is more than last year’s net withdrawals of 183 Bcf this week last year and more than the 5-year (2017-2021) average net withdrawals of 150 Bcf.

  • Working natural gas in storage totaled 2,323 Bcf, which is 393 Bcf (-14.5%) lower than last year’s working gas totals of 2,716 Bcf at the same time and 143 Bcf (-5.8%) lower than the 5-year average of 2,466 Bcf.  Total working gas is within the five-year historical range.


Supply/Demand

  • Average total supply of natural gas was up 0.1% week/week.  Dry natural gas production increased by 0.7%, while net imports with Canada decreased by 6.0% compared with the previous week. 

  • Total US consumption of natural gas decreased by 7.7% since last week.  Natural gas consumption for power generation decreased 8.5%, industrial sector consumption decreased 2.9%, residential-commercial consumption decreased 9.6% week over week, and exports to Mexico decreased 4.6% compared to last week.

  • US LNG exports decreased week over week, with 22 vessels departing US ports for a combined 81 Bcf.


Weather

  • A below normal weather pattern for the East Coast is forecast for the 8-14 day period starting February 12th.  The middle of February 2022 brings a below normal weather pattern for the East Coast that is east of the Mississippi, along with the bulk of Texas.  California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona are forecast for above normal temperatures. 
  • The Midwestern States that are west of the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountain States are forecast for near normal temperatures.  California has the highest probability for much above normal temperatures.  The Great Lake States have the highest probability for much below normal temperatures.
  • In the 8-14 day window from February 12th through February 18th, the Pacific Coast States, Rocky Mountain States, Southwestern States and Southern States are forecast for below normal precipitation. 
  • The Midwestern States, Middle Atlantic States and New England States are forecast for near normal precipitation.   The Great Lake States are forecast for above normal precipitation probability.

 

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