California has a mandate to have one-third of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020, but energy planners and providers are hoping milder weather prevails this summer in the face of prospects of a permanent shutdown of one of the state’s two major nuclear generating plants.
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If Wall Street’s reaction prevails, Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy Inc.’s stiff arming of an unsolicited offer from fellow merchant power operator Atlanta-based Mirant Corp. should hold up. Whether Mirant drops the offer voluntarily as several Wall Street private equity hedge funds were suggesting late last week was still unclear.
Following Monday’s strong launch, this week’s northern heat-inspired bull market appeared to be running out of steam quickly Tuesday when a moderate bias to the downside dominated an overall leveling off of cash prices. Several scattered small gains were outweighed by flat showings and losses ranging up to nearly 20 cents.
Category 2 Hurricane Isidore left the gas market playing all sorts of guessing games going into the weekend. However, most of the storm’s price-boosting impact appeared to have been spent in the eastern gains of nearly half a dollar over the previous two days. Friday’s small gains at Northeast citygates and some Gulf Coast points were greatly outweighed by flat to slightly lower numbers at other Gulf Coast points and larger losses throughout nearly all of the Midcontinent/Midwest and West.
Prices ranged from flat to down a little more than a dime in nearly all cases Wednesday; however, San Juan Basin numbers plunged by 40 cents. Most of the declines were fairly small at around a nickel or less.
While the Southern California border stepped up its headlongrush to rejoin the overall gas market and the other two Californiapoints saw big losses, all other points experienced only mildsoftness Wednesday. Only Texas Eastern-Kosciusko and two Northeastpoints (into Algonquin and Iroquois Zone 2) fell more than a dimeamong the non-California markets.
Y2K was not an issue yesterday for traders in the natural gaspit at the New York Mercantile Exchange as they seamlessly made theswitch from the December 1999 contract to the January 2000contract. They did, however, have some unfinished business to takecare of. After opening at $2.33, January rumbled 9 cents higher tofill in the chart gap created by December, between the Nov. 19 lowof $2.39 and the Nov. 22 high of $2.35. But before any talk of asustained rally could circulate-bears, armed with fresh forecastscalling for above-normal temperatures-were successful in all butcompletely erasing those early morning gains. At the closing bellthe January contract was up just 2.2 cents to finish at $2.352.
For ninth time in the last 10 trading sessions, natural gasfutures were lower last Friday as sellers pressured theprompt-April contract to its life-of-contract low. No freshfundamental news was seen to lift the market, and as a result itfollowed the long-standing trend 3.1 cents lower to $1.628.