Last January, the polar vortex brought extreme cold temperatures to much of the U.S., causing energy prices to spike as the natural gas system struggled and fossil-fuel power plants tripped offline.
In the aftermath, there was much hand-wringing about the growth of natural gas as a direct source of home heating, as well as its use for electricity generation. During a crisis, those two crucial needs can be at odds.
But now, new figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggest that for the fastest-growing parts of the country, electricity is gaining share as the heating fuel choice. In the future, that electricity could increasingly come from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, that would not compete with natural gas.