FERC recently released its 2014 State of the Energy Markets. The state of the markets is . . . strong.
Chicago merited distinction, sadly:
The 43 percent increase in the average price at the Chicago Citygate was a result of both the high price levels during the harsh winter, and of continued reliance on natural gas supplies from Canada. Canadian prices were 31 percent higher in 2014 than in 2013, as they recovered from an oversupply condition in 2013. In addition, natural gas demand in the Midwest in 2014 was the highest on record, up 3 percent from 2013.
That was the highest year-over-year increase in the US. Could have been worse: gas prices in Northeast hit $123/MMBtu in January. One year later, wholesale gas prices were down 65% at Chicago Citygate.
Overall, FERC noted significant improvement in wholesale electric prices year-over-year. PJM averaged more than $150/MWh on-peak in January 2014. In January 2015, on-peak prices averaged less than $50/MWh. New England and New York showed significant improvement in February 2015, too, while PJM prices actually edged higher than February 2014.
One of the unhappiest byproducts of the Polar Vortex was the unexpected and unhedged appearance of $667 million in uplift charges, assessed by PJM to end-users and transferred to generators that were ordered to run no matter the fuel cost. Those charges dropped to $105 million in the first 2 months of 2015, leaving fewer bruises on energy budgets.