Stockholm — Bright and breezy days are becoming a deeper nightmare for utilities struggling to earn a return on traditional power plants. With wind and solar farms sprouting up in more areas — and their power getting priority to feed into the grid in many places — the amount of electricity being generated is outstripping demand during certain hours of the day. The result: power prices are slipping to zero or even below more often in more jurisdictions. That is adding to headaches for generators from NRG Energy in California to RWE in Germany and Origin Energy in Australia. Once confined to a curiosity for a few hours over windy Christmas holidays, sub-zero cost of electricity is becoming a reality for hundreds of hours in many markets, upending the economics of the business in the process. "There is no time pattern for having negative prices in Belgium," said Marleen Vanhecke, an official at the nation’s grid manager, Elia System Operator. "This phenomena is mainly determined by hig...

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