New York power prices decline despite heat, reactor snags

July 8 Mon Jul 8, 2013 12:13pm EDT

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July 8 (Reuters) - New York power prices edged lower on Monday despite hot weather forecasts for early this week, as the state has more than enough generation to meet the expected cooling demand even with reduced output from two nuclear reactors.

Entergy Corp reduced the 1,006-megawatt (MW) Indian Point 2 reactor, the third-biggest generating unit in the state, to about 25 percent power over the weekend for work on a valve. , and Constellation Energy Nuclear Group took its 630-MW Nine Mile 1 reactor off line early Monday, also to work on a valve.

Entergy and Constellation could not say when their reactors would return to full power, but electricity traders estimated both units would return within a few days.

Despite the loss of power from the two reactors, traders said prices were only in the $60s per megawatt hour for early this week, well below quotes last week in the $80s as load forecasts and temperatures came in much lower than expected.

Temperatures this week will reach 88 degrees F (31 C) on Monday and 90 on Tuesday and Wednesday before dropping back to highs in the 80s on Thursday and Friday, according to AccuWeather.com. Last week, forecasters were calling for the mercury to top 90 each day early this week.

"We are not anticipating any issues on the system," New York Independent System Operator spokesman Ken Klapp told Reuters, noting demand forecasts are below what was expected for this time last week. NYISO operates the state's power grid.

On Monday, the NYISO forecast power usage would peak at 28,700 to 30,300 megawatts for the Monday to Wednesday period.

Last week, the NYISO forecast demand this week would reach 31,400 to 32,100 MW early this week. That is still well below the NYISO's all time record demand of 33,939 MW set in August 2006, before commercial and industrial power usage declined during the economic crisis.

One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.

The biggest power companies operating in New York include units of Consolidated Edison Inc, National Grid Plc , Iberdrola SA, Entergy, TransCanada Inc and NRG Energy Inc.

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In the New York City metropolitan area, Con Edison, the biggest power company in the state, asked customers to conserve energy because of the heat.

A spokesman at Con Edison, Allan Drury, told Reuters the utility had more than enough energy to keep customers' air conditioners humming. However, the company reduced voltage in a couple of neighborhoods in Queens (Jackson Heights and Rego Park) overnight due to a local distribution problem.

Drury could not say when the Queens voltage reduction would end. In a Twitter message, Con Edison told a customer Monday morning the power situation in Jackson Heights should return to normal soon.

Customers do not lose power in a voltage reduction, also known as a brown out, but incandescent lights, for example, are dimmer, hot water heaters take longer to heat water and some motors run slowly.

Over the weekend, Con Edison said it also reduced voltage in parts of Staten Island on Saturday and Sunday.

Con Edison said power usage on Sunday, when temperatures reached 92 degrees, set a record for a Sunday at 11,241 MW. That was the highest for a Sunday since August 2005, but was still well below the utility's all-time record of 13,189 MW set in July 2011.

Drury said Con Edison's current forecast for this week is for demand to peak on Monday at 12,250 MW and decline each day for the rest of the week.

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