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In This Issue

Department of Energy Resources Extends Solar Program

'Fuel Security' Tops ISO New England's Challenges: CEO

Natural Gas and Oil Market Update

EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change

Natural Gas Futures - Five Year Price


NOAA 6 to 10 Day Outlook
Color indicates the probability of forecasted temperatures being above or below a historical average for the period.


Market Overviews

Department of Energy Resources Extends Solar Program

RealEstateRama | February 2, 2017

Solar Leaders Celebrate Continued Solar Growth

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced today plans to extend the Commonwealth’s successful Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC 2) program further into 2017 along with a new proposal for a long-term replacement of the program. Since its inception, the SREC 2 program has led Massachusetts to more than 1,600 megawatts of solar development and supported thousands of local jobs, economic investments and a healthier environment for Bay State families and businesses. Solar associations, businesses, non-profits and supporters celebrated the move to address the gap between the SREC 2 program and its successor and are looking forward to further work to review the details and inform the final rules. Below are statements from advocates following the announcement:

“Today, the Baker Administration built a much-needed bridge between the end of the current solar incentive program and the beginning of the new one,” said Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This action will allow new solar projects to move forward, creating jobs, valuable investment dollars, and a well-deserved reputation for Massachusetts as one of America’s top solar states. SEIA is looking forward to working with state leaders to finalize the details of both the extension plan and the new incentive program.”

“Solar is delivering economic and environmental benefits to Massachusetts, with tens of thousands of solar jobs, millions of dollars in energy savings and significant reductions in our air and water pollution,” said Nathan Phelps, Program Manager of Distributed Generation Regulatory Policy at Vote Solar. “The Commonwealth is on the path to a bright solar future, and we applaud the Baker Administration for seeking to continue Massachusetts’ leadership with this extension.”

“We commend the Baker Administration’s recognition of the need for continuity and certainty to attract investment and ensure continued solar development in the Commonwealth. We look forward to working with DOER as it finalizes the details of its proposal to ensure the new program provides a strong policy framework for solar energy,” said NECEC President Peter Rothstein. “With a sustainable solar policy framework, more and more businesses, municipalities, and residents will find the value and opportunity to build solar projects that will preserve local jobs and provide economic, energy and environmental benefits to the Commonwealth.”

“Community shared solar projects are saving consumers money while providing clean, local power in dozens of towns from Hadley to Haverhill,” said Coalition for Community Solar Access Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “We appreciate the Baker Administration’s attention to maintaining a stable businesses environment, however this proposal will require some adjustments to ensure it works for community solar, which is critical for expanding access to solar to more customers, even if they don’t have a sunny roof.”

“Over the years, Massachusetts has done a marvelous job encouraging an emerging solar industry, creating thousands of jobs, and helping to put clean energy resources into the hands of mainstream people and local businesses,” said Bill Stillinger, President of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE). “An SREC extension will avoid disruption and we look forward to working on our state’s progress toward a clean energy future.”

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'Fuel Security' Tops ISO New England's Challenges: CEO

RTO Insider | February 2, 2017

ISO New England's growing reliance on natural gas-fired generation, coupled with delays in expanding pipeline capacity, continues to put "fuel security" at the top of a list of challenges to progress, the independent system operator's president and CEO said Monday.

During a media Internet conference entitled "State of the Grid: 2017," Gordon van Welie, ISO New England's president and CEO, noted that his organization had the lowest average wholesale electricity price since the market opened in 2003, reflecting low natural gas prices and "mostly mild weather."

"However, last year's low prices and mild weather mask fundamental challenges that could derail the region's progress toward a cleaner, greener power system that can provide competitively prices and reliable electricity," van Welie said. "The most pressing of these challenges is fuel security."

Inadequate fuel infrastructure "is a current, and growing, reliability risk," he said.

SO New England has about 17 GW of natural gas-fired generation as of the end of 2016, and another 23.4 GW of capacity in the generation interconnection queue, van Welie said, but too little of that generation capacity has firm delivery contracts to make up for the rapidly retiring and at-risk nuclear, coal and oil generation.

"There's a point at which we will not be able to ensure reliability if we continue retiring resources," van Welie said.

Since 2013, 4.2 GW of New England non-gas resources have been retired or had retirement announcements, and another 6 GW is at risk, van Welie said.

"Despite the growing need, the outlook for additional energy infrastructure has dimmed," he said. "Siting energy infrastructure projects has proven to be difficult. State efforts to develop a regional funding mechanism to expand natural gas infrastructure have stalled, and several natural gas pipeline projects have been suspended. These and other factors are likely to require greater reliance on higher-emitting, less efficient resources."

Asked how last week's announcement that Norman Bay would resign as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as of this Friday, which would leave FERC without a quorum, might affect the FERC approval process, van Welie said, "I think it will create a temporary delay."

However, van Welie said he expects new commissioners will soon be appointed to fill out the FERC leadership, and, "We are not aware of anything [pending] that would affect us."

ISO New England currently only has federal tariff authority to contract for generation that is planning to suspend operations to remain online to ensure the reliability of the transmission system, but ISO New England may face a more serious capacity issue as more conventional generation retires.

Asked whether ISO New England might consider seeking FERC authority to enter into reliability-must-run contracts for capacity, van Welie said, "That is something we would have to consider if the need were to arise. We do not have that need today."

Such a change would have to go through ISO New England's stakeholder process, which would take time.

ISO New England's next Forward Capacity Auction, for the planning year 2020-21, starts Friday with more than 40 GW of capacity qualified to compete to meet the projected need of about 34 GW, van Welie noted, but some states are considering entering into long-term contracts or other out-of-market incentives to attract more clean energy resources.

"However, these contracts and incentives could have unintended consequences," van Welie said. "Resources with guaranteed revenue streams could artificially suppress prices in the marketplace. That could deter new resource investments and hinder retention of existing resources, ultimately undermining resource adequacy."

The restructuring of New England's electricity sector has created substantial benefits, including "one of the most efficient generation fleets in the country," low wholesale power prices and increased industry innovation, he said.

"The region's challenge is to find a way to maintain competitive markets that appropriately reward both clean-energy resources and the conventional generators that will be needed for the foreseeable future," van Welie said. "It's a very difficult market design problem."

Without market rule adjustments, state incentives for clean energy would tilt the market in such a way as to send inappropriately low price signals, thus prompting resources to seek to return to a cost-of-service regulated electricity system.

"Such a system will undermine the benefits of competition and deter the investments needed to maintain resource adequacy," van Welie said.

Therefore ISO New England and the New England Power Pool and the six states in the ISO New England footprint "initiated extensive discussions over the past year to explore solutions that could achieve state clean-energy goals through the wholesale marketplace," van Welie said.

Read More:

Natural Gas and Oil Market Update


Natural Gas Inventory Now Above 5-Year Average

24/7 Wall Street | February 2, 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks decreased by 87 billion cubic feet for the week ending January 27.

Analysts were expecting a storage decline ranging from 83 billion to 94 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is a withdrawal of around 166 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage decline for the week totaled 152 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories fell by 119 billion cubic feet in the week ending January 20.


Oil Prices Steady After Sharp Rise in U.S. Stockpiles

Yahoo! Finance | February 2, 2017

Oil prices were little changed in U.S. trade on Thursday, retracing early gains as traders grew less concerned about mounting tensions between the United States and Iran, but prices were still supported by evidence that OPEC and other big exporters were cutting production.

“Traders seem to have concluded the dispute between the U.S. and Iran over a recent missile test represents more of a war of words than the start of a military confrontation that would put supplies from the wider Persian Gulf at risk,” Tim Evans, Citi Futures’ energy futures specialist, said in a note.

EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

Working gas in storage was 2,711 Bcf as of Friday, January 27, 2017, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decrease of 87 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 266 Bcf less than last year at this time and 59 Bcf above the five-year average of 2,652 Bcf. At 2,711 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range.

NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change

Natural Gas Futures - Five Year Price ($ per mmBtu)

NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change - Five Yearly Snapshot

Disclaimer: The information contained in these reports is gathered from public and/or internal sources and is presented solely for the convenience of our customers and Newsletter Subscribers. Patriot Energy Group makes no representation or warranty, express or implied as to the accuracy or completeness of the information set forth in this newsletter, and Patriot Energy shall not have any liability to any person or entity resulting from use of this information in any way.
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