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NEI's Energy Markets Report - March 17-March 21, 2008

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:
Electricity peak prices all decreased between $0.30-4.40/MWh. Though peak prices declined, prices at all hubs except ERCOT are still higher than their previous 52 week averages (see pages 1 and 3).

Estimated nuclear plant availability fell to 83 percent last week. Eleven reactors were down for refueling and nine were down for maintenance. Fort Calhoun’s turbine tripped while at 85% power due to a turbine control valve problem. Comanche Peak 2 tripped due to a broken sensing line. Wolf Creek 1 tripped due to a low steam generator level from the loss of a main feed water pump. Grand Gulf 1 scrammed due to an actuation of an RPS signal while the reactor was critical. Information is not yet available on why River Bend and Nine Mile Point 2 are down (NRC, see pages 2 and 4).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell $0.56 to $9.20/MMBtu. Gas prices are 34 percent higher than the same time last year. According to a recent CERA report, the higher natural gas prices over the past few months are due to colder than normal temperatures across much of the U.S., lower Canadian gas production, lower LNG imports, and higher storage withdrawals (see pages 1 and 3).

Spot coal prices from EIA have increased moderately to significantly at five basins - Central Appalachia, Northern Appalachia, Illinois, Uinta and Powder River. Spot prices at the Northern and Central Appalachia basins have increased from about $45/ton in November 2007 to $80/ton today. Prices at the Illinois and Uinta Basins have increased from about $35/ton and $25/ton, respectively, since December 2007 to over $50/ton and $40/ton today (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/coalnews/coalmar.html). According to a Forbes article on 3/10, coal spot prices have been increasing due to tight supplies after producers in South Africa and Australia, which supply a large portion of Europe's and Asia's coal needs, were hit by severe weather and power problems.
For the report click here. It is also located on NEI's Financial Center webpage.

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