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Natural Gas/Electricity Price Correlations

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Posted January 16, 2013 | By Lars Cleath

In the electricity business, we talk A LOT about natural gas market. Where is the market going? What affects the market? If our business is mostly about electricity, why do we talk so much about natural gas? Simply put, the greatest driver of electricity prices is the price of natural gas. Let’s take a look at why this important correlation exists.

First, a significant amount of electricity that is generated in the U.S. comes from the burning of natural gas - historically it’s been about 20%. The rest comes from coal (about 50%), nuclear (about 20%), hydro-electric (about 8%) and renewable (about 1%). If 50% of all electricity generated in the U.S. comes from coal, why is the correlation between natural gas more important?  To answer that question, you’ll need to understand the order in which electricity generators are dispatched and how prices for electricity are set.

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