Blackouts of More Than 12 Hours in Cuba, Hopeless Heat, Lack of Fuel and Out-of-Service Power Plants

Residents of Holguín report half-day blackouts and intermittent connections / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 8, 2024 — There was no need for the Electric Union of Cuba (UNE) to say this Wednesday, in its usual forecast, that yesterday “the service was affected due to a deficit of generation capacity for 24 hours.” The inhabitants of a third of the Island were able to feel it in their skin. For the second consecutive day, there were simultaneous blackouts in 30% of the country, the worst figure in a month and a half.

“They’re bleeding us dry. We’re being eaten up by the blackouts, and last night I couldn’t even take a bath,” laments Idelia, a resident of San Antonio de los Baños, Artemisa. There, the blackout scheduled from 3:00 in the afternoon to 8:00 at night ended up lasting until 3:30 in the morning. “More than 12 hours without electricity, and in this heat who can stand that? My heart is full of sorrow.”

The power outages have even reached José Martí International Airport in Havana. In terminal 3, this Tuesday, tourists could be seen trying to relieve their hot flashes with fans or by waving brochures in front of their sweaty faces.

“They’re bleeding us dry. We’re being eaten up by the blackouts, and last night I couldn’t even take a bath”

Over a loudspeaker, a female voice warned that the air conditioning was turned off “for maintenance,” but an airport employee told 14ymedio that the real reason is a “directive” coming “from above” to save electricity: “We turn it off about three days a week.” Half of the escalators were also stopped, as was one of the internal elevators.

In the capital, many neighborhoods also suffered power outages, even the areas that suffer them the least often, such as El Vedado and Centro Habana.

Residents of Holguín report to this newspaper half-day blackouts and intermittent connections. In Sancti Spíritus, this Tuesday, they also cut off the power, despite not having a scheduled blackout. “Here, the week that we don’t have a blackout we call a ’Marianao’ week,” a resident of the city explains to 14ymedio, referring to a report broadcast by official television that went viral in which a neighbor said sarcastically that “in Marianao we have everything.”

“It is no longer the breakdowns of thermoelectric plants or the fuel deficit that cause our suffering. Now the daily emphasis is on the maintenance that is undertaken on a few thermoelectric plants and Energás (the oil and gas company) to guarantee a ‘better electrical service’ in the summer. Imagine the poor family that wants to celebrate their daughter’s fifteenth birthday in style and goes hungry for a few months to be able to gorge themselves at the party, and then it lasts as long as a meringue at the door of a school,” Pedro de Jesús, resident of Fomento, Sancti Spíritus, wrote on his networks this Wednesday in a long post denouncing the generalized situation on the Island.

The increase in demand because of the heat is added to the number of out-of-service thermoelectric plants

“Zero blackouts and more food,” could be read on the wall of a funeral home in San Antonio de Cabezas, in Unión de Reyes, Matanzas, according to journalist Mario José Pentón. On the walls of the building, as observed in several images, they had also written, in capital letters: “the elderly are the ones who should take to the streets” and “homeland and life.”

This Wednesday the scene was repeated. With an availability of 2310 megawatts (MW), a maximum demand of 3050 MW was expected, which translates into a deficit of 740 MW and an impact of 810 MW during peak hours.

The increase in demand because of the heat is added to the number of thermoelectric power plants (CTEs) out of service. As the UNE said, Unit 2 of Felton is damaged, and Unit 1 is also under maintenance. Units 1 and 3 of the CTE Santa Cruz, the 6 of Nuevitas and the 8 of the CTE Mariel are also in maintenance. This is in addition to the 34 distributed generation plants shut down due to lack of fuel.

Tomorrow the UNE will go back to publishing its daily report, but it is not necessary. Cubans already know what the day has in store for them: blackouts and more blackouts.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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