Dec 7, 2021 11:04:37 AM

The largest New England Solar farm located in Farmington, Maine is now online. NextEra financed $110 million to develop the 76.5-megawatt solar farm.  The 300,000-panel solar farm which is expected to last 25 - 40 years is on 500 acres of leased land on Route 2 in the town of Farmington.  The New England College Renewable Partnership (NECRP) which includes five small New England liberal arts colleges, Smith, Amherst, Williams, Hampshire and Bowdoin are buying power, which is the equivalent of powering around 17,000 homes.  According to NECRP, this agreement is the first ever example of a collaborative purchase of solar energy in New England Higher Education, and one of the first such collaborations in the United States.  NECRP also said that the purchase of power from Farmington moves each of the five campuses closer to their climate-action goals, helps each school manage costs by “locking in” the price of electricity for the next 20 years. The project will net the town about $20 million in taxes during the course of the 30-year agreement.  Farmington Solar LLC is a subsidiary of NextEra.

Contrary to popular belief, climate change is not what's driving some U.S. coal-fired power plants to shut down. According to state regulatory filings, dozens of plants nationwide plan to stop burning coal this decade to comply with more stringent federal wastewater guidelines as the industry continues moving away from the planet-warming fossil fuel to make electricity. The Associated Press states that two of Pennsylvania’s largest coal-fired power plants, Keystone and Conemaugh outside Pittsburgh will stop using coal and retire all of their generating units by Dec. 31, 2028. The Environmental Protection Agency wastewater rule requires power plants to clean coal ash and toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and selenium from plant wastewater before it is dumped into streams and rivers. The rule is expected to affect 75 coal-fired power plants nationwide and at least 26 plants in 14 states said they will stop burning coal. The EPA estimates the rule will reduce the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s waterways by about 386 million pounds annually. states with power plants that plan to stop using coal by 2028 are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia, the Sierra Club data shows.

Winter Storm Uri caused 4.5 million people in Texas to lose power and failures across the region in February 2021.  The Final Report includes 28 formal recommendations that seek to prevent a recurrence of the failures experienced during the February 2021 cold weather event. These recommendations include important revisions to the NERC Reliability Standards surrounding generator winterization and gas-electric coordination. Full report can be found here

  • 81 percent of freeze-related generating unit outages occurred at temperatures above the units’ stated ambient design temperature.
  • 87 percent of unplanned generation outages due to fuel issues were related to natural gas, predominantly related to production and processing issues, while 13 percent involved issues with other fuels such as coal or fuel oil.
  • Natural gas fuel supply issues were caused by natural gas production declines, with 43.3 percent of natural gas production declines caused by freezing temperatures and weather, and 21.5 percent caused by midstream, wellhead or gathering facility power losses, which could be attributed either to rolling blackouts or weather-related outages such as downed power lines.

NERC President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Robb said. “The FERC-NERC-Regional Entity Staff Report also highlights the need for substantially better coordination between the natural gas system and the electric system to ensure a reliable supply that nearly 400 million people across North America depend upon to support their way of life.”  

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General Market Update

  • The January 2022 NYMEX Henry Hub traded to $4.258/MMBtu, down $0.86 (-25.2%) from the previous Wednesday. The price of the 12-month strip averaging January 2022 through December 2022 futures contract was down $0.49 (-14.2%) to $3.944/MMBtu.

  • Boston’s Algonquin Citygate price went down $1.96 (-28.4%) to $4.93/MMBtu last Wednesday. Transco Zone 6 NYC price decreased $1.38 (-26.2%) to $3.88/MMBtu. 

  • Pennsylvania’s Eastern Gas South fell $0.91 (-20.0%) to $3.65/MMBtu. Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus spot price decreased $0.86 (-19.8%) to $3.62/MMBtu.

  • SoCal Citygate price decreased $0.17 (-3.5%) to $4.62/MMBtu last Wednesday. The price at Northern California PG&E Citygate fell $1.09 (-18.9%) to $4.69/MMBtu week over week.

Utility Highlight

  • The upcoming Price to Compare for First Energy Potomac Edison in Maryland, Residential No Electric Heat rate class (RSNH) is $0.06531/kWh, in effect from January 1, 2022 to January 31, 2022.

  • Negative Headroom in the POTED – RSNH territory is now present in the shorter periods for contract with 3 and 6 month term.  Headroom of negative $0.06161/kWh is likely for the 3 month period and headroom of negative $0.04799/kWh is likely for the 6 month period; respectively.

  • The current Price to Compare data for First Energy Potomac Edison in Maryland (POTED), General Service Commercial Small (GSCS) is $0.06096/kWh, in effect from January 1, 2022 to January 31, 2022.

  • Negative Headroom in the POTED – GSCS market is now present in the shorter periods for contract with 3 and 6 month term.  Negative headroom of $0.05374/kWh is likely for the 3 month period and negative headroom of $0.04220/kWh is likely for the 6 month period; respectively. Contact TRUELight Energy for more Headroom Analysis and Price to Compare data in your market. 

Storage

  • For the week ending November 26th, 2021, the EIA reported net withdrawals from storage of 59 Bcf, which is more than last year’s net withdrawals of 4 Bcf this week last year and more than the 5-year (2016-2020) average net withdrawals of 31 Bcf.

  • Working natural gas in storage totaled 3,564 Bcf, which is 375 Bcf (-9.5%) lower than last year’s working gas totals of 3,939 Bcf at the same time and 86 Bcf (-2.4%) lower than the 5-year average of 3,650 Bcf.  Total working gas is within the five-year historical range.

Supply/Demand

  • Average total supply of natural gas rose 1.0% week/week.  Dry natural gas production increased by 0.9%, while net imports with Canada increased by 3.3% compared with the previous week. 

  • Total US consumption of natural gas rose by 0.8% since last week.  Natural gas consumption for power generation decreased 3.6%, industrial sector consumption increased 0.4%, residential-commercial consumption decreased 0.4% week over week, and exports to Mexico increased 3.6% compared to last week.

  • US LNG exports were unchanged week over week, with 23 vessels departing US ports for a combined 84 Bcf.

Weather

  • An unseasonable warm weather pattern for the entire United States, besides the Pacific Northwest, is forecast for the 8-14 day period starting December 9th.  The middle of December 2021 brings an above normal weather pattern for the all the United States besides the Pacific Northwest corner. 

  • The Pacific Northwest is forecast for near normal temperatures.  Coastal Washington state is forecast for below normal temperatures.  Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have the highest probability for much above normal temperatures. 

  • In the 8-14 day window from December 9th through December 15th, the Northern Pacific Coast States, Rocky Mountain States, Four Corners States, Great Lakes, and non-coastal Southern States are forecast for above normal precipitation.  

  • Nebraska, Oklahoma, Northern Texas and Florida are forecast for below normal precipitation.  The Midwestern States, costal Southern States, Middle Atlantic States and New England States are forecast for near normal precipitation probability.

 

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