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Federal Government uses UPLAN model to examine price volatility in ERCOT

LCG, October 11, 2022--The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, released its latest supplement to the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) in the Texas market, assessing various possible scenarios using LCG’s UPLAN NPM model, with a special focus on the effects on wholesale power prices and market conditions.

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Michigan Governor Supports Reopening Palisades Nuclear Facility

LCG, September 16, 2022--The Governor of Michigan last week sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in support of Holtec International’s application for a federal grant under the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) program to save the Palisades Nuclear Facility in Southwest Michigan. The federal grant could result in restarting the baseload, carbon-free, nuclear power plant.

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Industry News

'Soft' Price Cap Puts Costly Power on California Grid

LCG, Dec. 12, 2000--A "soft" price cap. recommended by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission following its review of the California electricity market last month and put in place late Friday by the California Independent Systems Operator, put some much-needed power on the state's transmission grid yesterday.

It wasn't enough to prevent Cal-ISO from declaring yet another "Stage 2" power emergency that called for power delivery curtailment to customers with interruptible contracts, and the cost of that extra power sent shock waves through California's electric industry.

Yesterday, prices hit a record high of $1,099 per megawatt-hour. If power cost that much full-time, a typical residential electric bill would be more than $500 a month.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co., the two investor-owned utilities still restrained by a price freeze that went into effect with the passage of California's electric restructuring law, were aghast. They are being driven toward insolvency by the high prices they are forced to pay for electricity they are required to sell at low retail prices to their customers. Between them, the two companies are sitting on more than $5 billion in unrecovered power costs.

PG&E spokesman Ron Low said "We are dismayed that the ISO chose to expose our customers to the outrageous prices being charged by the out-of-state generators." The out-of-state generators he was referring to were the companies that purchased the power plants PG&E and the other state utilities were forced to sell off because of restructuring. Those generators are no longer "out-of-state."

The prices Low referred to were "outrageous" only in that PG&E is not allowed to pass them along to its customers.

Cal-ISO, which was envisioned only as the independent manager of transmission facilities owned by the state's three big utilities, has become the purchasing agent for about a third of the power consumed in the state. The agency is not a good power purchaser, and seems at times unable to negotiate favorable prices.

Worse, Cal-ISO is downright terrible when it comes to paying for power it purchases. One power producer told EnergyOnline Daily News that Cal-ISO rarely pays for power until at least 90 days after being billed.

Cal-ISO, which has been pushed to the wall in its search for power, went to the soft cap without asking anybody. It did not consult its governing board, FERC or even California Gov. Gray Davis. Terry Winter, chief executive of the agency, said he was tired of waiting around for politicians and bureaucrats to do something.

Gov. Davis, who is beginning to feel the heat of his state's power insufficiency, called the ISO's move to the soft cap an "outrageous assault" on consumers.

Power producers have been hit in recent weeks by rapidly escalating prices for natural gas, the fuel for California's non-nuclear power plants. Gas is currently selling on the California spot market for as much as $45 per million British thermal units -- ten times its normal price. According to Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke Energy North America which purchased PG&E's plants, that means it costs around $500 to generate a megawatt-hour of power.

"We wouldn't be running with a $250 price cap," he said.

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