If anything, the natural gas outage on Aquidneck Island in January 2019 exposed the vulnerabilities of an area that is literally at the end of the pipeline network that sends gas around New England.

The interruption, which left thousands of people without heat on some of the coldest days that winter, was the result of an extraordinary set of circumstances — a malfunctioning valve on a transmission line in Massachusetts, a spike in demand caused by the frigid weather and the failure of a liquefied natural gas plant in Providence to pump much-needed supplies into the system.

National Grid, the only utility that distributes gas in Rhode Island, is looking at ways to shore up the system on the island to try to prevent another outage from occurring.

It may seem a simple matter but many of the options proposed by the company rely on some type of expansion of the gas infrastructure on the island. Environmental advocates, meanwhile, argue that the last thing anyone should be doing in an era of climate change is ramping up use of a fossil fuel that would lead to more greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Every time you light a new fire with a new gas furnace, that’s a fire that’s going to burn for the next 20 or 30 years,” said Hank Webster, Rhode Island director for the Acadia Center, a Boston-based group that specializes in clean-energy issues.

Read the full article from the Providence Journal here