Shale Gas Leads to 50% Drop in Wholesale Electricity Prices

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek takes a look at the profound impact shale gas is having on the cost of energy in the United States. One of the biggest eye-poppers in the article: The average price of wholesale electricity has dropped 50 percent on average since 2008. Why? Because electrical generating plants are switching from other forms of producing electricity to using natural gas to produce electricity.

A shale-driven glut of natural gas has cut electricity prices for the U.S. power industry by 50 percent and reduced investment in costlier sources of energy.

With abundant new supplies of gas making it the cheapest option for new power generation, the largest U.S. wind-energy producer, NextEra Energy Inc., has shelved plans for new U.S. wind projects next year and Exelon Corp. called off plans to expand two nuclear plants. Michigan utility CMS Energy Corp. canceled a $2 billion coal plant after deciding it wasn’t financially viable in a time of “low natural-gas prices linked to expanded shale-gas supplies,” according to a company statement.

Mirroring the gas market, wholesale electricity prices have dropped more than 50 percent on average since 2008, and about 10 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a Jan. 11 research report by Aneesh Prabhu, a New York-based credit analyst with Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. Prices in the west hub of PJM Interconnection LLC, the largest wholesale market in the U.S., declined to about $39 per megawatt hour by December 2011 from $87 in the first quarter of 2008.*

Read the rest of this extensive article by clicking the link below.

*Bloomberg Businessweek (Jan 18, 2012) – Electricity Declines 50% as Shale Spurs Natural Gas Glut: Energy