Quad Cities, TMI Don’t Clear
By Suzanne Herel and Rich Heidorn Jr.
PJM’s second auction under Capacity Performance rules saw prices drop sharply as new gas-fired generation flooded the market. Exelon’s Quad Cities and Three Mile Island nuclear plants were among the plants that failed to clear, leaving them without any capacity revenue for delivery year 2019/20.
Capacity Performance prices fell in most of PJM by $65/MW-day, or 39%, to $100/MW-day compared with last year.
Prices in Eastern MAAC fell by nearly $106/MW-day, or 47%, to $119.77. Only the ComEd zone held its own, dropping just $12/MW-day, or 6%, to $202.77. Base capacity, limited to 20% of the RTO’s needs, came in at a $20/MW-day discount to CP. There were no locational constraints on base.
The auction will cost load a total of $6.9 billion in 2019/20, compared with $11 billion for last year’s auction for 2018/19.
Prices were depressed by new generation and a 1,200-MW reduction in load requirements as a result of a revised load forecast, said Stu Bresler, PJM senior vice president of markets.
The auction acquired 167,306 MW for delivery year 2019/20. That gives the RTO a 22.4% reserve margin, well above the target of 16.5%.
“Prices were lower than some analysts had expected and lower than last year’s auction results simply because of market fundamentals — changes in supply and demand,” Bresler said. “The load forecast is lower, and there was a large amount of new gas-fired combined cycle generation clearing for the first time in the auction.”
In total, 6,543.5 MW (UCAP) of new generation offered into the auction including uprates. About 5,529 MW of the new generation cleared, mostly natural gas combined cycle and combustion turbines.
Based on prior experience most of the cleared new generators will meet their in-service dates. For example, 87% of the 4,575 MW of large, combined cycle units that cleared in the Reliability Pricing Model for 2015/16 are in service and the remainder are expected to be in service by mid-2017.
Cleared external generation dropped by 812 MW to 3,876 MW, a 17% reduction, while internal generation rose 1%. About 71% of the external generation was CP.
Like CP generation, base capacity generation is expected to be available throughout the delivery year, but unlike CP it is subject to nonperformance penalties only during the summer.
About 13,000 MW of new entry was granted an exception to the minimum offer price rule (MOPR), Bresler told the Markets and Reliability Committee on Thursday. No new entry was held to the MOPR.
Quad Cities, TMI Shut Out
Bresler called the results “extremely competitive.” He noted that fewer coal-fired and nuclear resources cleared the auction. Coal was down about 2,600 MW, and nuclear was down more than 1,500 MW, he said.
Exelon said all of its nuclear plants that offered cleared the auction except for Quad Cities, Three Mile Island and a portion of the Byron plant. Oyster Creek, which is scheduled to retire in 2019, did not participate in the auction.
Despite the news, the company said Byron is committed to operate through May 2020. The company has said it would close Quad Cities and the Clinton nuclear plant if it did not win financial support from the Illinois legislature before its session ends May 31. Exelon says the two plants have lost $800 million over the past seven years despite strong operating records.
Although Clinton cleared in MISO’s recent capacity auction, the company said its revenues will not be sufficient to earn a profit.
The company noted this was the second consecutive year that TMI Unit 1 failed to clear the PJM auction. “Although the plant is committed to operate through May 2018, the plant faces continued economic challenges and Exelon is exploring all options to return it to profitability,” the company said.
“The capacity market alone can’t preserve zero-carbon emitting nuclear plants that are facing the lowest wholesale energy prices in 15 years,” CEO Chris Crane said in a statement. “Without passage of comprehensive energy legislation that recognizes nuclear energy for its economic, reliability and environmental benefits to Illinois, we will be forced to close Quad Cities and Clinton.”
Dynegy, meanwhile, said it cleared a total of 9,804 MW at a weighted average price of $134/MW-day, worth $481 million for 2019/20. Dynegy’s PJM fleet cleared 9,187 MW at $137/MW-day and its Illinois Power Holdings will export 617 MW to PJM at $92/MW-day.
FirstEnergy declined to comment on how its plants fared in the auction. American Electric Power also made no announcements.
The two companies have been trying to win above-market purchase power agreements to support their struggling merchant fleets.
In its analysis of the auction results, UBS Securities said the depressed clearing price could spell trouble for generators looking for financial assistance. “As we have noted previously, lower capacity revenues place increased reliance on extra revenues from local customers under [FirstEnergy’s] revised PPA proposal, which could put the plan at higher risk of rejection. Similarly, we expect increased scrutiny of costs in Illinois as the legislature there continues to debate a clean energy credit for [Exelon’s] nukes.”
Demand Response, Energy Efficiency
Cleared demand response dropped to 10,348 MW, down about 7%, while energy efficiency soared almost 22%.
About 70% of the energy efficiency cleared as CP, with the remainder as summer-only base capacity. Only 6% of the DR resources qualified as CP, which must be available year-round.
DY 2019/20 will see a net increase of 84 MW of DR over 2018/19 and 312 MW of EE.
The low percentage of DR that cleared as CP should not be taken as a sign that the resource will struggle to participate in the auction when it moves to all CP in the 2020/21 delivery year, Bresler said Thursday.
“About 4,700 MW was offered that could be CP; it just didn’t clear that way economically,” he said. “I don’t think we should take these results as demand response can’t be CP.”
Of the 969 MW of cleared wind resources, 89.4 MW cleared as CP (9%). The 969 MW represents 7,453.8 MW of nameplate capacity based on its 13% capacity factor.
About 335 MW of solar capacity cleared, compared to 184 MW last year, with only 0.4 MW clearing as CP (one-tenth of 1%). Based on its 38% capacity factor, the 335 MW represents 882 MW of nameplate solar. A total of 6,328 MW of new generation will be added in 2019/20, offset by the loss of 2,923 MW for a net increase of 3,405 MW.
Bresler noted that for the first time, one aggregated resource of renewable power offered into the auction, but he didn’t know if it cleared. Because there was only one, he wouldn’t identify it except to say it was in the renewable category, “and that’s bigger than wind and solar, it includes hydro.”
Analysts Predicted Price Drop
Analysts had predicted lower clearing prices for the auction, which began May 18.
Morningstar analyst Jordan Grimes forecast a price of $160/MW-day for the CP product and $180/MW-day in EMAAC and SWMAAC. He predicted base capacity to clear at a discount of $10/MW-day. (See Analysts Expect Lower Clearing Prices in 2019/20 PJM Capacity Auction.)
Julien Dumoulin-Smith of UBS reduced his forecast CP price from $140/MW-day to $125/MW-day. He predicted higher prices in EMAAC, DPL-S, PS-N and PSEG at $200/MW-day and ComEd at $225/MW-day.
Morningstar’s model predicted that Exelon’s Quad Cities nuclear plant would not clear the auction.
The price cap was $448.95/MW-day, compared with $450.86/MW-day for the 2018/19 auction.