ERCOT liquidity versus Northeast, PJM, etc.

Discussion in 'Commodity Futures' started by texrex2002, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. I’m trying to rationalize why Fixed Price Power becomes so illiquid (relative to PJM or NE, NY, etc.) in TX as soon as you get more than a few months out.

    Here some thought’s I’ve had. Please dispute or support if you know or have an opinion.

    - very limited interconnectivity to other grids. Nearly impossible to move power from SPP or SERC to Ercot. These types of physical barriers prevent outside power marketers to participate, which in theory would drive efficiency even into the long term). However in the upper Midwest and NE there are loads of interfaces, allowing for more market participants across ISO's.

    - Only 4 zones in TX, some with limited inter-zone connectivity, some with plenty of intra-zone congestion (so transmission scarcity is an issue).

    - Limited generation to peak load. Load is growing in TX, but maybe there’s uncertainty about future generation coming on line so no-one wants to be caught short if load growth outstrips generation capacity growth???

    - Ercot historically set up by market participants trading around generation assets, so generators are (habitually almost) more likely to sell heat rates instead of forward FP Power (relieves them from having to participate in the Gas market for their feedstock). I guess in PJM no-one cares about having to lock in feedstock? Maybe they're just better at it, since they've been around longer?

    - Generators able to benefit from congestion relief, just given the way congestion is settled by Ercot. Its cost is socialized via uplift, instead of charged to those causing the congestion (so parties causing the congestion can get paid above market rates to relieve it). This is also liquidity reducing, as generators stand to benefit from keeping capacity available (not selling larger %age forward) and participating in this market.

    Any thoughts would be welcome. Trying to gather as many ideas as possible why ERCOT fixed price power prices are in such steep contango compared to say, PJM or NEPOOL prices. Is it really just Transmission related? Participant preference related?

    Something has to be driving this behavior. You’d think someone would step into the market and sell long term fixed price power if it’s really mispriced, and then just buy it back as the flow month nears (for a healthy profit).

    Thanks in advance.