14ymedio, Havana, 24 September 2023 — Cubans are experiencing another day of blackouts this Sunday, with more than 600 megawatts (MW) of deficit as predicted by the Electric Union (UNE). The Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power plant (CTE), located in Matanzas, is still out of service, and the other generating plants also accumulate a string of breaks or maintenance stops.
“The estimate for the peak hour is an availability of 2,282 MW and a maximum demand of 2,900 MW, for a deficit of 618 MW, so if the expected conditions are maintained, an impact of 688 MW is predicted at this time,” the UNE posted on its Facebook page, and it did not take Internet users long to comment with complaints and mockery.
Last Sunday, the Antonia Guiteras plant, the largest generator on the Island, suffered a break in the boiler, the second in a week, which disconnected it from the National Electric System (SEN). In a statement, its directors said that it was necessary to wait for the usual cooling process in that area to identify the problem and its magnitude, but so far the breakdown has not been resolved.
Barely able to sleep, “because of the heat and the mosquitoes,” Ismael had to return this Sunday to the work of carrying goods, and fears that when he returns home, “it will be just as dark”
“Yesterday I had a very hard day of work because I had to go to the city several times,” Ismael, 23, tells 14ymedio. On Saturday he had to help his father transport some agricultural products from Jatibonico to the provincial capital. “Our car broke down on one of those trips, and we spent hours stranded on the road. When we got home, there was a blackout for a good part of the early morning,” he says.
Barely able to sleep “because of the heat and the mosquitoes,” Ismael had to return this Sunday to carrying goods and fears that when he returns home “it will be just as dark.” The provinces and municipalities are the most affected by the power cuts that affect daily tasks, from cooking to resting.
In Carlos Rojas, Matanzas, the activist Annia Zamora catalogs as “intense” the blackouts that the community suffers, and before each daily task, she anticipates that it can be done only if the Electric Union “allows it.” Mobile phone towers also stop working when the electricity is cut, so “the Internet connection disappears for long hours,” she explains to this newspaper.
The Mariel and Felton plants both have a generation unit out of service, while unit 6 of Energías Boca de Jaruco, unit 5 of Renté and unit 3 of Santa Cruz are under maintenance, according to the UNE in its Sunday report, which by mid-morning had already accumulated dozens of comments, all negative.
“When are they going to sell candles and flashlights in the ration store? Given the circumstances they should prioritize that,” said an Internet user who identified himself as Juan Valdés, while Yoana Polanco complained that in her town of Manatí, in Las Tunas, they suffered a power outage this Saturday from five in the afternoon until nine at night, and then had a blackout again from four in the morning this Sunday: “How long is this going to go on?” she asked, fed up.
Among the bitter criticisms published this Sunday, UNE customers have recalled that the Antonio Guiteras plant worked normally during the G-77 plus China Summit held in Havana in the middle of this month
The target of popular annoyance is the CTE Guiteras, which has been entering and leaving the SEN for months due to various problems. At the end of last August, the plant suffered another stop, on that occasion due to an “overconsumption of water,” an excess that caused breaks and affectations in electricity generation.
A few weeks before, at the beginning of June, when it was not even 72 hours after synchronization to the SEN after a long maintenance, the Guiteras was disconnected again, on that occasion due to problems in the boiler, as its managers explained to the official press.
Just two months before that mishap, in April of this year, after a collapse inside the chimney, two workers died and two others were injured. The employees, who were cleaning the soot, were trapped when a 3.9-foot high wall or “partition” collapsed on them.
Among the bitter criticisms published this Sunday, UNE clients have recalled that the Antonio Guiteras plant functioned normally during the G-77 plus China Summit, held in Havana in the middle of this month. “The guests left and we went back to the blackouts; it seems that the Guiteras prefers people with foreign currency,” a netizen summed up sarcastically.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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