Nashville Electric worker servicing an electric pole

A Nashville Electric Service worker services a power pole after a winter storm.

As Texas continues to recover from power failures that left people cold and without water throughout the state, many areas, including Nashville, are able to jump right back into daily living with little disruption.

The reason for this, according to the Nashville Electric Service, is yearlong maintenance of infrastructure as well as a widely varied pool of resources used to generate electricity.

"We believe our relatively low number of outages during this winter storm can be attributed to NES' long-term planning and maintenance activities, including vegetation management where we trim trees away from power lines year-round," Vice President of Customer Services Sylvia Smith said. "Additionally, in bitter cold temperatures, we are fortunate to rely on (the Tennessee Valley Authority's) diverse energy generation mix for reliability."

That mix is a big deal, as reports from Texas indicated a large portion of electric capacity was lost due to a halt in natural gas production as equipment froze.

As of 2020, Nashville's energy production consisted of 41% nuclear energy, 14% coal, 27% natural gas, 13% hydroelectricity and 5% renewables, including solar, wind and other programs.

In Texas, officials cited that loss of natural gas production during the winter storm as one of the primary reasons for huge shortages of capacity, leading to brownouts and eventually forced blackouts to keep demand below the operating capacity of the state's electric grid.

A senior director at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas told local media that the natural gas shutdown, on top of the loss of some other resources, cost the state an estimated 45 gigawatts of capacity at a time when peak demand was predicted to be 67. According to the group, that loss was about half of the total capacity under normal winter conditions.

While not nearly to the extent of those in Texas, Nashville residents and businesses did experience some power outages.

NES said in an announcement Sunday that there were 8,953 power interruptions in the area, affecting roughly 2% of the 418,000 customers served. The most who experienced an outage at one time was 2,008.

For those suffering any lingering effects from power loss, or for whom mail service delays prevented bill payment, NES has halted disconnections for non-payment through March 1. It also is encouraging people who are having trouble paying their bills to reach out for assistance.

No outage in the area lasted longer than a few hours. An outage Friday morning in the Sylvan Heights area, which impacted roughly 315 customers, was resolved before 10 a.m. after it was reported on NES' outage map just a couple of hours before.

And keeping electricity running also prevented failures in other utility infrastructure, including water services. As homes and businesses continued to function normally, water systems did, too, preventing failures that can be caused when water stagnates in pipes in freezing temperatures.

Texans across the state experienced those failures when pipes burst due to the cold and the expansion of ice within them.

A live map of water outages provided by Metro government showed four active breaks in the system as of Monday afternoon, but three were already under repair. One was under investigation as a potential water main break. According to a disclaimer on the map, some of those repairs may already be completed, but the map may not yet be updated to reflect that. 

Smith thanked workers for working through the cold weather and icy conditions.

"We want to thank the NES employees and contract crews who worked hard during this storm to keep Middle Tennessee safe and warm," she said.

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