Texas spared from soaring wholesale electricity prices

Wholesale electricity prices rose across the country during the first half of the year largely because of a jump in the price of natural gas, which is used as a fuel for power generation, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said this week.

The agency said spot natural gas prices at major hubs across the nation increased 42 percent to 146 percent from the first half of 2012 to the first half of this year. Natural gas prices had hit 10-year lows last year.

That was the major reason why average on-peak, day-ahead wholesale electricity prices rose across the country. On-peak hours are weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The power price spike was greatest in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest because of natural gas supply issues, EIA said.

In Texas, the power price increase was much smaller than the rest of the nation, largely because of the mild weather this spring. The average wholesale electricity price in the ERCOT Houston Zone was $35.33 per megawatt-hour for the first half of 2013, up 13 percent from the year before, according to the EIA.

Read more: Grid operator delays decision on boosting capacity requirements

Breaking down the nation, EIA said:

–Wholesale electricity prices in New England were the highest in the nation this past winter mostly because of pipeline constraints that limited the delivery of natural gas. The average wholesale electricity price doubled at a major New England hub between the first half of 2012 and the first half of 2013, with the price soaring above $200 per megawatt-hour on several days during the winter.

–Power prices in the Northwest were 82 percent higher compared to the first half of 2012, largely because a decline in precipitation reduced hydroelectric generation and made the region more dependent on gas-fired power. The wholesale price in that region averaged $31.93 per megawatt-hour during the first half of the year.

–In California, power prices rose 59 percent to $42.43 per megawatt-hour. An outage at a nuclear generating station was blamed.

Also on FuelFix:

14 ways to slim your power bill this summer