U.S. utility firms were reportedly unable to supply sufficient power during the harsh weather, further resulting in long blackouts across the whole nation.
In the days leading up to Christmas, residents of southeast U.S. received warnings to put off doing laundry or using the dishwasher in order to reduce their usage of hot water.
Apparently, two of the biggest energy providers in the country still considered that it was not adequate.
Between December 23 and 24, when temperatures dropped to 40F (4.4C) in a matter of hours and the gale-force winds drifted the area, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), as well as Duke Energy, instated historic power outages that lasted between 30 and 60 minutes, halting the pre-holiday preparations.
As per PJM Interconnection, a company that runs the biggest local power grid in the United States, up to 63% of the blackouts in some regions of the country were caused by natural gas plants.
These two utilities and others invested billions in fortifying the grid for such a disaster after the 2014 polar vortex, which exposed flaws in the electricity grid due to record-low temperatures. However, despite these improvements, equipment at coal and natural gas-powered plants around the southeast continued to freeze when the cold struck again last year.
Advocates for clean energy and grid specialists claim that the weather in December demonstrated an increasing number of natural gas stations, which currently provides over one-third of the country's electricity. Apparently, this is an inappropriate response to severe weather, holding up the transition to less climate-polluting options.
In spite of this, companies including Duke, Southern Company, TVA, and a few others are disregarding this rebuttal and constructing new gas plants.
Yet, some argue that given the utility closures of aging power plants and the expansion of renewable energy sources, actions that are upending the conventional power grid, natural gas is the greatest alternative.