Texas gas burn for power hits four-year low
Houston, 10 February (Argus) — Natural gas use to generate electricity in Texas in January remained at the lowest monthly level in nearly four years, and 36pc below the previous January, as coal and wind generation increased.
Gas was burned to produce 8.2 GWh in January, down from 12.7 GWh in January 2016 amid higher 2017 gas prices, according to grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). January’s gas burn was flat with the prior month, which fell to the lowest monthly output since February 2013, according to ERCOT data.
Last month, gas accounted for 29.9pc of ERCOT’s fuel mix, down from 46.2pc a year earlier. Spot prices for gas in January averaged $3.32/mmBtu at the Henry Hub, 46pc higher than in January 2016.
Texas coal burn in absolute terms jumped by 42pc in January from the year-earlier period to 9.7 GWh. Coal accounted for 35.6pc of the monthly fuel mix, up from 24.9pc a year earlier. Annual coal-fired generation rebounded in 2016 from the lowest level since 2002 when ERCOT began tracking generation. Coal’s share of Texas’ monthly fuel mix reached a 30-month high in December 2016 at 38pc, rebounding from a low point in March, according to ERCOT data.
Wind farms produced 5.4 GWh last month, up by 32pc from the previous January. Wind accounted for 19.8pc of ERCOT’s January fuel mix, up from 14.9pc a year earlier.
Wind generation set a peak daily record in December 2016 of 16,022MW on Christmas Day. ERCOT has more than 17,600MW of installed wind capacity, the most of any US state.
Output from the state’s four nuclear reactors rose by 3pc in January from the year-earlier period to 3.8 GWh. Nuclear generation accounted for 13.9pc of ERCOT production last month, steady from 13.4pc a year ago.
Nascent utility-scale solar production in ERCOT doubled last month from January 2016 to 96,000 MWh, accounting for 0.4pc of monthly generation supply.