Winter Storm Uri Market Alert – Feb 14, 2021

By March 3, 2021 News

Cold weather throughout the weekend has driven power demand in Texas to near record levels for winter, and ERCOT spot power prices have followed. Forecasts for Monday and Tuesday calling for even colder weather are driving forecasted power demand levels to shatter the previous all-time winter peak demand record of 65,915 MW set in January of 2018 and potentially to break the summer peak demand record of 74,531 set in August of 2019. The graph below shows ERCOT’s current forecast of load (green line), yesterday’s forecast (blue line) and the current wind generation forecast, all by hour.

The periods of most concern are early morning tomorrow (2 am on) through evening tomorrow then again in the morning ramp hours on Tuesday (4 am – noon). Those periods will see the highest demands, with the period tomorrow actually being the most concerning given that wind output is forecast to plummet to below 2,000 MW for most of that period. This is a similar set up to what happened in August of 2019 when record high demand combined with very low wind output led to multiple hours at the $9,000 / MWh price cap. That is looking increasingly likely in ERCOT during multiple hours tomorrow and Friday.

Spot prices have already average over $1,600 throughout the weekend across all 4 zones. West zone prices have moved above the other zones as the coldest temps are hitting there first. Prices yesterday stayed above $1,000 / MWh basically all day, with one interval hitting the $9,000 / MWh price cap. We expect higher prices tomorrow and Tuesday.

Outside of ERCOT, power prices have moderated somewhat, though MISO and CAISO remain elevated compared to earlier in the week.