helping the bottom
line, bringing the
benefits of the
merger into even
We are experiencing the most difficult pricing environment the company has faced since market deregulation in 1997, and our stock price remains correlated to natural gas prices as well as overall economic conditions. Exelon's share price on December 31, 2012, was $29.74, down 31 percent from (pre-merger) Exelon's 2011 year-end share price of $43.37. Both natural gas and power prices are at or near 10-year lows. 2012 day-ahead prices in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market dropped 45 percent from 2011, and PJM West prices fell more than 20 percent from the prior year. 2011-12 was the warmest winter on record, and load growth for our utilities remained generally flat due to a slow economic recovery. All of these forces negatively affected our stock price in 2012.
We have taken and continue to take action to mitigate the effects of markets and the economy on our financial results. Cost management remains a priority, and our synergies are helping the bottom line, bringing the benefits of the merger into even sharper focus. We have re-ordered capital plans to manage cash and protect our credit metrics, while giving ourselves the flexibility and balance sheet strength to continue to grow.
We have substantial upside to an overall economic recovery, and especially to increasing gas and power prices. We believe the fundamentals are in place for a supply-driven recovery as coal plants retire. What we cannot tell you with any precision is when that upside will materialize.