As of 9:00 Thursday morning, about 4.7 million customers were without power as a result of Hurricane Sandy. While New York and New Jersey accounted for over 70 percent of the outages, 10 other states were reporting significant outages (more than 1,000), according to a situation report released today by the U.S. Department of Energy.
In the Northeast, natural gas power burn generally fell over the past few days, possibly as a result of reduced demand for electricity, according to data from BENTEK Energy LLC (Bentek). Estimates for natural gas consumed for power generation were 3.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf) today, compared to 4.4 Bcf on Monday. Any declines in natural gas-fired generation because of electric power demand destruction may be somewhat mitigated by power producers substituting natural gas for lost nuclear capacity resulting from the storm. According to the situation report, three nuclear reactors remained offline as of this morning, and two units that had been operating at reduced capacity had been restored to close to full capacity.
Residential and commercial consumption in the Northeast increased significantly during the past couple of days, surpassing 11 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Increases were especially pronounced in areas in the Appalachian mountains, where blizzards and high levels of snow resulted from Hurricane Sandy.
In general, natural gas prices rose slightly at most markets, although some Northeast locations posted larger increases and most prices at trading points in the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest decreased on the week. The Henry Hub spot price rose from $3.43 per MMBtu last Wednesday to $3.50 per MMBtu yesterday after falling to $3.38 on October 26. At the Algonquin Citygate, which serves consumers in Boston, prices rose 28 cents per MMBtu to end the week at $4.18 per MMBtu. Some of the price increases in the Northeast may have been related to storm damage; Texas Eastern Transmission reported compressor problems as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to trade press reports.
The Chicago Citygate trading point in the Midwest saw an increase for the week ending yesterday of 32 cents per MMBtu, reaching $3.96 per MMBtu. This followed Chicago Citygate’s 20-cent per MMBtu price increase from the previous reporting period, and was similar to increases seen across all Midwestern trading points.
By contrast, average prices at the Sumas trading point in the Pacific Northwest fell by 35 cents per MMBtu, reversing the previous Wednesday-to-Wednesday period’s 36-cent gain. Price declines in the Colorado and Wyoming area were slightly less pronounced than Sumas; the spot price at the Opal trading hub, for example, fell 4 cents per MMBtu to end the week at $3.50 per MMBtu.