Code of Conduct and Methodology

The purpose of the Energy Market Report is to inform traders and interested parties of the day-to-day functioning of the US bulk power market. The newsletter presents information that makes the market more transparent and aids market players in understanding current trends.

The report informs readers through the presentation of prices, analysis, and unit outage information on a day-to-day basis. NYMEX natural gas futures prices, CAISO congestion charges, load forecasts, break-even (marginal) heat rates for natural gas-fired generators, and spot gas prices at various trading hubs are also regularly included. Periodically, other information has been included in the newsletter. Such information has included stream flows on major rivers and a variety of graphical representations of historical data. Other features will be added to the newsletter as the market grows, adapts, and develops.

In order to present the most accurate picture of the market, the staff of the Energy Market Report has developed a methodology statement defining specifically how data for the newsletter is compiled and presented.

The Energy Market Report is dedicated to keeping up with the needs of our subscribers in the rapidly changing energy market. If there is some information that you feel would give our subscribers an edge in the market, please let us know, either by telephone at (503) 222-2425, or by e-mail at emr@econ.com.

Data Collection

During the course of the day the Energy Market Report (EMR) staff contacts a variety of participating subscribers in each region by phone, and receives daily trade summary sheets of price and unit outage data from multiple sources (brokers, marketers, utilities, etc.) from their mid- or back offices to maintain a layer of independence from the trading floor. Data obtained through phone contact is used exclusively for subjective information regarding the daily tenor and behavior of the bulk electricity market, as well as non-price information such as generation outages and other daily events that affect the market and its prices. Price information gleaned from these phone conversations is not included in any price index, although it is used more generally to help verify the price ranges reported in our non-volume weighted daily price assessments.

These participants have agreed to share information with the EMR staff between one and three times a week, or daily in the case of most trade sheets. Due to the large number of subscribers that have agreed to exchange information with the EMR we are able to obtain accurate day-ahead price data from at least three sources for each of the geographical points each day of the week without contacting the same sources every day. Currently, the EMR staff contacts approximately 50 different utilities, marketers and power brokers each week. In the average week, each source is contacted two or three times. The EMR believes that our primary responsibility is to the participants who provide information for the newsletter. Therefore, any information that is given during the course of a conversation with a member of the EMR staff, accompanied by the expressed desire that the information not be printed, will not appear in the newsletter. The same is true for information contained in trade sheets. Specific transactions, names of the parties involved, quantities, and prices are confidential and are only utilized in aggregate form for the final daily price assessment or index. The EMR conforms to the conventions detailed in the Committee of Chief Risk Officer’s (CCRO’s) Data Submission, Usage, and Confidentiality Agreement (DSUCA) regarding confidentiality and data verification. Minor adjustments may be negotiated bilaterally with individual data providers depending on the specific needs of each, but the DSUCA is the base from which these adjustments are made in all cases. The EMR is based on survey data and the staff is not responsible for incorrect information that has been relayed. However, the EMR staff will seek confirmation from at least two sources before including data in the survey. If for any reason the EMR staff believes that reported data is inaccurate or misleading, it will not be included.

Neither the staff of The Energy Market Report, Insight Research, Inc. (the company which publishes the EMR), nor its sister company, Economic Insight, Inc., are involved in the production, distribution, or marketing of bulk power in any way. Only EMR staff that are assigned and authorized to develop our price surveys and indices are granted access to this data.

Price Assessments (Surveyed Ranges)

Prices presented on the first and fifth pages of the EMR represent those reported by the participants contacted or tradesheets received that day for firm, pre-scheduled, spot power for the next day. (Prices before Jan 1, 1998 are for non-firm (one-hour firm) energy.) In other words, prices are reported on Monday for energy that will be delivered on Tuesday, and so on. There is a slight difference in methodology for WECC, according to the typical western market trading patterns: on Thursdays and Fridays, two sets of prices are reported. Prices for Friday and Saturday are reported on Thursday, while prices for Sunday and Monday will appear in the Friday edition. In WECC, the entire day of Sunday, along with the traditional off-peak hours of Monday, are bundled into a single off-peak block of 32 hours. For areas outside of WECC, prices are for the next day only, and Friday trading is for Monday delivery. Weekends are not generally included in the spot markets outside of the Western Interconnect. In the event of government holidays, prices are reported at the earliest day possible, usually the day before the holiday.

Apart from the exception cited above, prices are broken into two categories: peak energy, delivered during hours ending 7 through 22, and off-peak energy, delivered for the first 6 hours of the day as well as the last 2.

Every attempt is made to report prices at which energy was transacted rather than simply bids and offers. The EMR price survey is not an Index; reported prices do not represent weighted averages. The Index is a separate statistical entity, and it is described in the next section.

EMR Price Indices

As of September 17, 2007, the EMR began publishing volume-weighted average price indices for major electricity hubs in both the West and East on page four of the Energy Market Report. The move comes after three months of compiling and analyzing the indices for accuracy and relevance. We are, principally, a firm of consulting economists who specialize in the energy industry, not merely journalists, and the methodology we have devised enjoys the most rigorous statistical integrity in the industry. The methodology employed is meticulous, and unless every requirement is met, no index price will be reported for a given hub. We will continue to publish price assessments for as many hubs as are feasible in addition to the indices. Eventually, as the market matures, price indices will replace the price assessments. The methodology employed is designed to meet FERC's standards, so that these indices can be used for regulatory purposes.

The methodology (also known as the code of conduct) is as follows: individual trade data is collected by electronic trade summary sheet from the mid- or back-offices of market participants. The data is gathered into a master trade sheet that lists every transaction that EMR reporters have collected, and is separated by hub, by shape, and by whether the trade was a purchase or sale. The EMR collects both buy-side-only and sell-side-only index prices separately so subscribers can be assured that no trade was accidentally double-counted. No index will be published unless it meets two criteria: first, transaction data for any given hub must come from at least three separate market participants, or, in the absence of counterparty information, at least three distinct trades. Second, total volume at a given hub must meet or exceed 1,000 MWh for off-peak trades and 2,000 MWh for peak trades. Since buy and sell data are separate, these criteria must separately be met by each side in order for their respective index prices to be published.

The Index price itself is calculated by first summing the product of each trade's price and volume and then dividing by the total volume traded at the hub by shape. In other words, if P=price and V=volume, then each index price will be calculated thusly:

Peak and off-peak prices are calculated separately, as are buy- and sell-side prices. Along with the weighted index price, the EMR reports total volume, in MWh, traded at a given hub, as well as the change in the index price at that hub from the previous day’s index and the total number of transactions. In addition, the high and low prices included in the index data set are reported. If all the criteria are met for a given hub, then the EMR will publish an index at that hub. The EMR will publish either buy-side or sell-side data, or both, depending upon whether each set exhibits sufficiently robust reported activity, to avoid accidentally double-counting a transaction. Which side is being reported will be noted in the publication. The confidentiality of the identities of all of our data providers is protected, except as mandated by law, at all times. The EMR’s price index is published in addition to our price assessments based on surveys, which have a distinct methodology outlined above, and both are clearly designated as such.

Forward Prices

Forward prices in the EMR are for standard peak products and represent the most recent bid-ask spread available at the time of publishing. Forward pricing points include, but are not limited to, Mid-Columbia, Palo Verde, Mead, SP-15, and NP-15. Forward data is compiled from trade sheets sent to the EMR from marketers and brokers. Forward bid-ask spreads obtained through the EMR’s daily phone survey are used to check the accuracy of the data contained in those trade sheets.

Regions

Currently the EMR details prices for the Price Assessments in 20 distinct markets (Price reporting begins with the date in parentheses):

Northwest/N. Rockies - Includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana (02-Dec-94).

Mid-Columbia - The market corresponding to the region of Central Washington State as well as Northern Oregon between the Grand Coulee and McNary Dams (22-Jun-95).

COB - The California-Oregon Border (21-Feb-95).

Northern California- The northern portion of the State above Midway, a.k.a. NP-15 (02-Dec-94).

Midway/Sylmar - located between Northern and Southern California (14-Apr-95).

Southern California- The southern portion of the State below Midway, a.k.a. SP-15 (02-Dec-95).

Mead - the Southern Nevada Market (often exported into California) (21-Feb-95).

Palo Verde - located in Southern Arizona (also often exported into California) (21-Feb-95).

Inland Southwest - Consisting of Southern Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico (02-Dec-94).

4-Corners - At the Utah/Arizona/New Mexico/Colorado border (23-Feb-95).

Central Rockies - Northern Nevada, Utah and Colorado (14-Apr-95).

AEP – Portions of the ECAR region (06-Jul-04).

Cinergy – Consisting of Ohio and nearby portions of the Upper Midwest (01-Oct-98).

Entergy – Consisting of Louisiana and nearby portions of the South Central United States (01-Oct-98).

ERCOT – The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas in Texas (06-Jul-04).

ERCOT-North – The northern portions of ERCOT (06-Jul-04).

Nepool – The New England power pool (06-Jul-04).

N. Illinois (Comed) – Northern Illinois, specifically Chicago and its environs (06-Jul-04).

PJM-West – The Western Hub of the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection (01-Mar-99).

TVA – Consisting of Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama (01-Oct-98).

Note that some of these data collection points represent actual purchasers and producers of energy while other locations, particularly Midway/Sylmar, Mead, Palo Verde, 4-Corners, the Mid-Columbia and COB/NOB, are often transaction points for energy that is ultimately used elsewhere. These transaction points exist for the most part where many transmission lines converge and facilitate power transfers from one system to another. The Price Index may incorporate any or all of these hubs, depending on whether the data we’ve gathered are sufficiently robust for inclusion and whether they meet our minimum requirements regarding volume and number of trades.

Generating Unit Outage Information

A table of unit outages is presented daily. The EMR reports the name of the non-functioning unit as well as the following: the primary fuel used in the unit, the name plate capacity of the unit, the date the outage began and the date the unit is expected to return. In some cases, if the EMR is told the exact generating capacity of the unit by either the owner or operator, this information is used instead of the nameplate capacity. Units of 250 MW or greater capacity are reported in the table. Smaller units are reported in the text of the EMR. The EMR is based on survey data and the staff is not responsible for incorrect information that has been relayed. In cases of a unit outage, the EMR staff will seek confirmation from at least two sources, or the plant's owner, federal authorities (such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)), or the local ISO, before including a unit in the outage table. Otherwise, the outage will be viewed as a rumor and will appear in the text of the EMR, rather than in the table.

Historical Data

Prices reported by EMR staff are compiled within our in-house database in Portland, Oregon. This data is available for each of the markets we report and should give an accurate representation of longer-term market trends. In the past, these data have been used by utilities and marketers as an indicator of market forces when longer-term contracts were negotiated. Currently we can provide weekly data from December 1994 and daily data from February 1995. A unit outage database is available for 1997 to present. If this information could help you in some way please feel free to contact the EMR staff at (503) 222-2425, or through e-mail at emr@econ.com.

Some data is provided free of charge to subscribers of the newsletter and researchers using the information for academic purposes.

Two-Week Trial

It has and continues to be the policy of Insight Research and the Energy Market Report to offer a free two-week trial of the EMR. We believe our publication is the most up-to-date and complete reference tool for the daily bulk electricity market. We urge potential subscribers to learn more about the report before subscribing.

Contact

For further information on subscription rates or historical data, please feel free to contact the Energy Market Report staff at (503) 222-2425, or through electronic mail at emr@econ.com

 

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