The Polar Vortex’s Impact on Your Energy Supply


Our thoughts go out to everyone in Texas and other parts of the country deeply affected by the recent polar vortex. Now that the power is coming back on, we wish for a speedy and efficient return to normalcy with the massive cleanup effort and distribution of potable water and supplies underway.

While some have tried to blame wind and renewables for the problems in Texas, it has become clear that all electric generators—including natural gas and coal plants—failed during the unprecedented weather. 

The recent events in Houston had a major yet short-lived impact on the natural gas commodities market. After a substantial spike, March natural gas futures prices have returned to where they were trading from February 1st through February 11th

The conditions in Texas will have minimal impact on Bright Power customers east of the Mississippi River, as well as those in California.

The largest impacts outside Texas were felt throughout the Southwest Power Pool ISO Grid (SPP), which covers states from Oklahoma to the Canadian border. In those states, local natural gas prices spiked as high as $320 per dekatherm (dth) compared to $3 – $4 per dth. These spikes lasted a few days, affecting very large industrial natural gas users and natural gas-burning electricity plants. Lesser impacts will be felt in the northern states included in the Midwest Power Pool ISO (MISO), just east of the Mississippi River. Chicago, although surrounded by MISO, is actually part of the PJM ISO, so the impact there should also be minor.

There aren’t any deregulated states within SPP or MISO that allow customers to choose a third-party Energy Supply Company (ESCO) instead of paying the local utility for generation and supply. Therefore all SPP and MISO customers are at the mercy of their local utility and their state’s Utility Commission.

The largest impact on some of Bright Power’s national clients is our temporary inability to provide energy supply pricing from some suppliers. Since many third-party energy supplier (ESCO) headquarters are in Texas, the blackouts and subsequent water pipe failures have destroyed offices and servers that support their pricing desks. Furthermore, many ESCO employees cannot work from home since they face the same situation as they attempt to secure potable water and assess damage to their homes. 

The Bright Power Energy Procurement Team is working with our ESCO partners to provide our clients options during this time. 

Contact us with any questions you have.