Texas gas burn for power drops to two-year low
Natural gas use to produce electricity in Texas in November fell to the lowest level in two years and 16pc below the previous November as nuclear and coal output increased.
Gas was burned to produce about 9 GWh in November, down from 10.6 GWh in November 2015 amid higher gas prices, according to grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
November’s gas burn was the lowest monthly output since March 2014, according to ERCOT data.
Last month, gas accounted for 36.6pc of ERCOT’s fuel mix, down from 44.5pc a year ago. Spot prices for gas in November averaged $2.47/mmBtu at the Henry Hub, 19pc higher than in November 2015, but 17pc below 2016’s peak of $2.96/mmBtu in September.
Texas coal burn in absolute terms jumped by 22pc in November from the year-earlier period to 7.9 GWh. Coal accounted for 32.3pc of the monthly fuel mix, up from 27.2pc a year earlier. Coal’s share of Texas’ monthly fuel mix rose to a two-year high in October after slumping to the lowest level in more 10 years in March, according to ERCOT data.
Wind farms produced 4.2 GWh last month, down by 3.5pc from the previous November. Wind accounted for 17.3pc of ERCOT’s November fuel mix compared to 18.4pc a year ago.
Despite lower overall monthly output, wind generation set peak daily records in November, reaching a new high of 15,033MW on 27 November. The percentage of ERCOT load served by wind ranged from 35pc to more than 46pc that day, the grid operator said. ERCOT has more than 17,000MW of installed wind capacity, the most of any US state. Another 2,000MW may be added before year end.
Output from the region’s four nuclear reactors jumped by 45pc in November from the year-earlier period to 3.3 GWh. Nuclear generation accounted for 13.5pc of ERCOT production last month, up from 9.5pc a year ago when one reactor at the South Texas Project was closed for an extended refueling and maintenance period.
Solar output slid to 66,000 MWh last month after exceeding 100,000 MWh the prior two months, accounting for 0.3pc of the monthly fuel supply. ERCOT began tracking solar production this year. ERCOT has 398MW of utility-scale solar connected to the grid with 287MW in development this year and 1,000MW planned next year.