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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Predicting Electricity Price Trends


Guest Blogger: Kathy Kiernan
Senior Vice President & Managing Partner, APPI Energy

Retail electricity prices are largely driven by natural gas prices. Even though your system operator (PJM, ERCOT, MISO, NEPOOL) is procuring power from a variety of sources—hydroelectric, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, gas—the way system operators pay generating plants is based on the last fuel used to meet demand, which is almost always natural gas. Therefore, the amount you pay per kWh is determined primarily by the current price of natural gas in your region. 

Retail electricity prices tend to follow trends in natural gas prices. Gas prices, however, are significantly more volatile than electricity prices. For example, when we see gas prices fluctuate by as much as 70% in a single month, corresponding electricity prices will generally move in the same direction, but by only around 10%. The change in electricity prices will also typically lag behind gas prices by a couple of weeks.

In the financial sector, the “volatility index” of a stock, commodity, or asset is a statistical measure of the uncertainty or risk associated with rapid and/or dramatic changes in the security’s value or price. Over the past 12 months (Feb 2016 – Feb 2017) the volatility index for NYMEX natural gas futures was 5.7%, and 7.0% for Henry Hub spot prices. The volatility index for the national average benchmark price of retail electricity during this same timeframe was only 1.4%.


What does this mean? The use of gas prices in short-term forecasting often overestimates the extent of change in electricity prices. Gas prices are therefore a better indicator of longer-term electricity price trends than they are predictors of short-term price shifts. Rule of thumb, for a 10% shift in gas prices anticipate electricity prices will move in the same direction by only 2-3%.

Learn more about PMA and APPI Energy’s partnership here.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PMA 75th Anniversary Interview with Bill Gaskin

PMA President, Bill Gaskin, shares his memories and experiences as PMA celebrates our 75th anniversary.

Q: How long have you been at PMA?

A: I am closing in on 40 years. Jon Jenson, who was president of American Metal Stamping Association (AMSA) from December 1975 through August 2000, hired me in February 1977 with an official “start date” of March 1, 1977.  (See below for more on this) 

Q: What is your current role? Have you held any other positions at PMA previously?

A: My current role includes being President of three separate, but related entities:

(1) Precision Metalforming Association, which is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit trade association

(2) PMA Educational Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charitable organization supporting training and education·      

(3) PMA Services, Inc., a for-profit company (owned equally by PMA and PMAEF) engaged primarily in publishing and management of other associations, such as Women in Manufacturing (WiM). 

My first job title was Staff Representative; then succeeding ones: District & Government Relations Coordinator, Government Relations Manager, Vice President, Executive Vice President, and in 2000, President.  (The next one is likely to be President Emeritus.)

Q: What is the best part of working at PMA?

A: The people I work for and the people I work with. One of the great things about PMA and many similar trade associations and/or professional societies, is that you can make a significant and positive impact on an entire industry (or profession) and help it succeed.  In turn, this affects our larger economy and overall success of our country. The volunteer leadership of PMA is comprised of motivated, hardworking individuals who are very busy in their own companies, yet they take time to work on PMA, to help us be successful as an organization and an overall industry. In turn, my fellow PMA employees invest their time and energy to provide information, services and benefits that help our member companies succeed. It is this synergy of dedicated members and a dedicated team of co-workers that has allowed us to help the metalforming industry be stronger, more innovative and more successful.

Q: What was the first PMA event/meeting that you worked on? 

A: A meeting of the Government Affairs Committee, in Washington, D.C. My first unofficial day on the job (I was actually a volunteer that day) was Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1977, two weeks before my actual start-date as an employee. During my final interview, Jon asked if I could take two days of vacation from the job I was leaving to participate in an AMSA Government Relations Committee meeting being held in Washington, D.C.  It was a very useful meeting, because I had a chance to meet about a dozen active members, who believed strongly in the importance of “telling the industry story” to our elected representatives and employees of government agencies. I also started to learn about some serious industry issues caused when the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which had been established just six years earlier, had taken voluntary industry safety standards, and overnight made them the “law of the land.” The metal stamping industry was really struggling to comply with these new requirements, and AMSA was indeed the “voice” of the industry then, as PMA is today. 

As a side note, that trip to Washington, D.C. was the first time I was ever on an airplane.

Q: What PMA event is your favorite? 

A: Forming Our Future, which we used to call the “Annual Meeting.” It is a multi-day event in a very nice location, with great speakers, small group meetings, larger assembly sessions and plenty of opportunities for participants to meet new people, share-interesting ideas, learn new things, and take some time to relax and have some fun. While the locations, hotels and speakers are amazing, the people from our member companies are what really make the event worth every minute. 

Q: What is your favorite PMA memory? 

A: Being among a group of PMA members who spent their personal time and company money to travel to Washington, D.C. to help end the 201 Steel Tariff, that very negatively impacted steel consumers with an overnight 36% duty applied to all imports of flat rolled metals.  Jim McGregor from Morgal Machine Tool, at his company’s expense, loaded an operational metal stamping line (uncoiler, feed, stamping press complete with tool and a parts bin) on a flatbed truck, then parked it outside the U.S. Capitol Building. This was part of a press event to bring attention to the harm caused to steel-consuming companies while steel-producing companies were being protected from low-priced Chinese steel imports by a tariff that artificially raised the price they received for their steel. Our large group of members in D.C., some of them standing on the truck, held their “stop the tariff” signs, to help make the point to Congress that while steel producers were benefiting from the tariff, steel consumers were being impacted negatively.


An economic study we commissioned determined that 71 steel-consuming industry jobs would be lost for each steel-producing job saved. PMA and our allies were successful in ending the steel tariff 20 months early, likely saving tens of thousands of jobs in our industry.

Q: What makes you proud to work at PMA?

A: A combination of things: 

(1) Our employees and their remarkable dedication to the association, our members and the metalforming industry, which motivates them to perform outstanding and challenging work to provide leadership, important and useful information, personal service, outstanding products, publications, and events to our members and the entire metalforming industry. 

(2) Our members and their willingness to volunteer their time and company resources to collaborate with others, engaging through PMA to improve the metalforming industry, including learning from each other, and working with government officials and other associations to help the industry and our economy grow stronger.

(3) The resources we sometimes take for granted, such as our debt-free office facility, built in 1998, in Independence, OH, and our relationships with other associations, our suppliers and partners who make us better and help us strive to achieve our mission:  To shape the environment of the metalforming industry, leading innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability.

Q: What does PMA mean to you?

A: To me, PMA has meant having an opportunity to make a difference to our member companies and their employees, and to PMA’s team. I really believe that organizations such as PMA make a huge difference within an industry, and in turn contribute to the success of the overall U.S. economy, thereby enhancing our lifestyle, freedoms and long-term success. PMA means the opportunity to help an industry, which is essential to our daily well-being, succeed and serve their customers, and thereby contribute to the past, present and future of our families, communities and country. 

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