A Breakdown in the Felton Thermoelectric Plant Strains the Energy Situation in Cuba

The plant left service on November 20 to undergo scheduled maintenance. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 11, 2023 — The Lidio Ramón Pérez thermoelectric plant of Felton, in Mayarí, managed to operate a little more than three days since it was last synchronized to the National Electroenergy System (SEN). The plant joined the system last Thursday, after a repair that lasted more than two weeks, but on Monday the Unión Eléctrica (UNE) reported that two units of the plant were stopped due to a breakdown.

On Monday, the UNE predicted an electrical impact of 300 megawatts (MW) in peak hours and announced that unit 1 of the Thermoelectric Power Plant (CTE) of Santa Cruz, in Mayabeque, and unit 3 of the CTE Renté, in Santiago de Cuba, were also out of service due to breakdowns. To these are added the exit, for maintenance, of unit 5 of the CTE Mariel, Artemisa, and unit 3 of the CTE Cienfuegos.

After a Sunday in which the UNE boasted that there would be no blackouts, a day that coincided with International Human Rights Day, the customers of the state monopoly received the news of the breakage of Lidio Ramón Pérez as an indication that there will be more power outages in the coming weeks. Criticism of the quality of maintenance work has been at the center of the complaints.

Yosbel Expósito Martin, annoyed, wrote on the company’s Facebook page that this “proves that the maintenance carried out by the UNE makes things worse; they have now disgraced the good work of the Felton 1.”  “We continue with the same story every week, the same torture,” added Rosa López, another angry netizen.

This proves that the maintenance carried out by the UNE makes things worse; they have now disgraced the good work of the Felton 1

The thermoelectric plant had gone out of service on November 20 to undergo scheduled maintenance that sought to return the plant’s capacity to produce 240 MW. The work included lowering the dome of the boiler, which weighs more than 127 tons and required foreign advice and special lifting equipment, according to the official press.

After more than two weeks, last Friday, on the thermoelectric plant’s Facebook account, the tone was optimistic: “After a very busy morning with a lot of professionalism and commitment, we are raising the load little by little,” said a brief message accompanied by a photo with smoke coming out of the Felton’s smokestack.

Eric Milanés Quinzán, general director of the industry, then confirmed to Radio Mayarí that after a gradual start-up process, the block 1 machine synchronized with the SEN 20 minutes before midnight [on Thursday], and since then, work has been done “on the adjustment of indicators and efficiency parameters to continue assimilating the load, progressively.”

Milanés explained that the maintenance included the startup and output transformers and the replacement of seven fragments of tubes, known as mochetas, inside the boiler. According to the manager, at this time it was not necessary to carry out work on the turbine.

But with the passing of the hours the information about the CTE was not updated again, and Cubans woke up this Monday with the news of its departure from service. The breakdown adds to the random history of damage and stoppage that the industry has suffered in recent years.

Last March, the Felton 1 synchronized with the SEN after spending 20 days in a scheduled maintenance, but only eight days later it left again due to another breakdown. At the end of the month, the plant was disconnected again due to a break in the boiler.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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