Power prices in the U.S. Northwest have jumped to record levels as winter makes a dramatic late-season stand and temperatures plunge.
The average price for peak electricity for delivery on March 6 at the Mid-Columbia hub in Washington, the benchmark for the region, traded as high as $1,000 a megawatt-hour and was averaging $894 on the Intercontinental Exchange, said David Hoy, an an energy trader with Dynasty Power in Calgary. If prices settle anywhere near those levels, that would eclipse the May 2001 record of $450, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“This is unprecedented” in the region, and even in the transmission-constrained eastern U.S., the only time power traded that high was during the polar vortex in 2014, Hoy said. “Something is very broken.”
Natural gas, a key power-generating fuel, has been trading in the region at record seasonal highs over the past month. Enbridge Inc.’s line in Canada that feeds the Huntingdon/Sumas hub at the border with Washington has been operating at reduced capacity as the company performs work after a rupture in October.