According to the Dow Jones Newswires, natural-gas futures plunged Thursday, falling below $4 after the U.S. government reported a larger-than-expected weekly build in U.S. inventories.
Natural gas for September delivery recently traded down 12.6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $3.964 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The last time the contract dipped below $4 was April 11.
The Energy Information Administration said U.S. natural-gas stockpiles rose by 44 billion cubic feet last week, well above the 36 bcf predicted by analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.
Meanwhile in electricity news, ERCOT initiated an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 at 2:26 p.m. today due to responsive reserves below 1,750 megawatts (MW).
“Interruptible loads – large customers paid to be dropped in a level 2 emergency have been deployed,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations.
“Capacity is expected to be very tight over the peak today – particularly between 4 and 5 p.m. We are asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as they are able during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m.,” Saathoff said.
As a result, wholesale power prices on ERCOT’s real-time market jumped from the double-digit range to the triple-digits after ERCOT’s emergency alert was heightened. Wholesale prices hit the regulated price ceiling of $3,001 per MWh on all three prior days this week.
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Commodity Prices ($)
|EIA report for week ending 7-29-2011