- February wholesale power prices in New England were 2.4% higher this year compared to last, averaging $28.05/MWh, in response to higher natural gas prices according to new analysis from the region's grid operator.
- According to ISO-New England, natural gas prices were up 6.7%, but lower power demand helped keep power prices from rising more.
- Total energy consumption in New England declined by 7.1% in February, compared to energy usage during the previous February—but a leap year makes that comparison not quite perfect, the grid operator noted.
February last year had 29 days, helping to skew the year-over-year comparisons of energy demand. But with almost half of New England generation coming from gas-fired plants, the prices tend to move in tandem.
The grid operator said natural gas prices averaged $3.72MMBtu in February, a steep drop from $5.11MMBtu in January. But consumers got a boost from lower demand as well.
New England energy usage this February dropped 7.1% to 9,404 GWh, from the 10,126 GWh used in February 2016. Warmer weather was partly behind the decline.
Because the region is so dependent on natural gas, and pipeline development has slowed, small fuel fluctuations have significant impacts. Gas and power prices during last month's winter storm sent gas at the Algonquin Citygate to $8/MMBtu, and power prices above $60 MWh in the day ahead markets.
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The all-time peak demand in New England was 28,130 MW, recorded during an August 2006 heat wave, while the all-time high winter peak was 22,818 MW (a cold snap in January 2004, when temperatures dipped below zero). Peak demand this February was 18,130 MW, more than 7% below January peak demand.