14ymedio, Madrid, 6 November 2023 — The population has not yet felt the return of the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, located In Matanzas, which had a three-day break for scheduled maintenance after its last breakdown a month and a half ago and was synchronized again with the National Electricity System (SEN) this Sunday, after a new agonizing day of blackouts in most provinces, with a deficit of 900 MW.
The Electric Union (UNE) had announced for Saturday the lack of almost 400 MW in the peak hour that, finally, increased by more than 500 MW. For Sunday, 544 MW of deficit had been foreseen, so the official journalist Lázaro Manuel Alonso considered the reinstatement of the plant “in the midst of such a complex and annoying situation” as “good news.”
Alonso’s explanations for a Saturday in which the population reported a lack of electricity of up to 12 hours were “the problems with the fuel” that Cuba President Miguel Díaz-Canel had overcome a few days ago, “the departure of several units for maintenance and the incomplete incorporation of the CTE Antonio Guiteras.” The Matanzas plant, the largest in the country and one of the oldest (1988), stopped on September 17, after suffering two breaks in the boiler in a week, just at the end of the G-77 plus China summit that was held in Havana. Since then it had been subjected to the umpteenth batch of repairs of the year.
On Saturday, an attempt was made to connect without success, since after 11 pm, said Radio Rebelde journalist José Miguel Solís, “a failure in the boiler,” again motivated its departure
On Saturday, an attempt was made to connect without success, since, after 11 pm, said Radio Rebelde journalist José Miguel Solís, “a failure in the boiler,” again motivated its departure. “They tell us that the pressure switch failed,” Solís reported, attributing the infernal Saturday to the seven plants that are outside the system “between breakdowns and maintenance, plus the distributed generation with little availability of fuel” (diesel and fuel oil).
Solís, who lives in Matanzas, celebrated on Sunday night when the Guiteras finally reached the 274 MW of generation that could alleviate the situation if it continues, but his triumphant tone was not shared by all his followers. “I would think very hard about your news. I’m sorry to see that on a Sunday the power cut off every three hours, after a dark week,” complained one user.
Some, on the other hand, celebrated the reinstatement of the plant, at least for a day, but not without making clear the exceptionality of the situation. “Bravo, it shows. My power didn’t go out tonight, a miracle,” one said ironically, with laughing emoticons. Another remarked, “This has been a very long Sunday. I woke up without power for four hours. At 1:00 in the afternoon they removed it until 7:30. Terrible. Other times Guiteras breaks and there is not as much impact. Are we out of oil again?” asked another.
Havana was one of the few provinces that was spared from the eternal blackouts this weekend, once again. In some provinces, such as Sancti Spíritus, the situation was unsustainable, with nine-hour cuts reported in Cabaiguán, while from Puerto Padre, Las Tunas, there was talk of five hours without power.
In the eastern area, the situation was worse. The 14ymedio correspondent in Holguín reported this Saturday about two cuts that totaled 12 hours. “Last night they shut off the power from 12 to 6 in the morning, and they shut it off again at 12 noon until 6 in the afternoon, that is, 12 hours today without power. To that, add that when the current goes, the [Internet] connection also drops,” he explained.
UNE’s social networks had no respite throughout the weekend, in the midst of a widespread loss of patience in the population. “Eight hours with light in 24 hours, good record,” one reproached. “The problem is that they remove it in the same place. Here last night it was from 10 pm to 3 am. You can imagine that I couldn’t sleep. Today I’m getting ready to wash and boom! It wasn’t even 9 am and they put it back on at 3:12 pm. What a life that’s not a life!” lamented a commentator from Cienfuegos.
Last week, Lázaro Guerra Hernández, technical director of the UNE, celebrated the respite experienced by the Cubans in October, but warned of the possibility of a more complicated November by “maintenance actions in important generating units,” at that time the Guiteras and then the Felton, in Holguín, which will be shut down for ten days.
“If they know that there is no fuel, the Guiteras is out and there are several thermoelectric plants under maintenance, how are they going to shut down more plants for maintenance with the situation as it is? Couldn’t they foresee this?
Guerra Hernández said that the Government obtained resources for maintenance and was very satisfied, since Energás and several units – in Mariel, Santa Cruz and Nuevitas – were properly going through the process. “We have managed to maintain thermal generation above 1,200 MW. We had difficulties with the supply of fuel at the beginning of October, but that situation improved in the second half. As for the distributed generation, it has had a positive performance considering the resources we have.”
The director added that the goal is to arrive at better conditions in December, but the first results of this weekend have made citizens see the flaws of the plan. “If they know that there is no fuel, the Guiteras is out and there are several thermoelectric plants under maintenance, how are they going to shut down more plants for maintenance with the situation as it is? Couldn’t they foresee this, and do those maintenance “deadlines” happen step by step? If they didn’t manage them before, why do they think they can do it now? The people are already at their wits’ end. Don’t you care about them? Or is this just another way to hide that the problem with fuel is even worse than before?” asked a user, fed up with the UNE.
In fewer words, another summed up the state of things on the Island. “What a sad Sunday for the revolutionary proletariat.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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