Cuba Experienced Blackouts of Up to 20 Hours This Sunday and the Forecasts Don’t Improve

The Government does not rule out blackouts for the high temperature season, but says that the system now has better conditions. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 May 2023 – – The promise of the Minister of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, to have “better conditions” for the supply of electricity to Cuban homes for the hottest months didn’t even last one day. Despite its statements this Saturday in Cubadebate, the Electric Union (UNE) recorded blackouts of up to 20 hours throughout the Island.

The company explained that the service was interrupted from 7:15 a.m. on Sunday to 4:07 a.m. this Monday. The maximum affects occurred on Sunday at 8:30 p.m., with a generation deficit of 736 megawatts (MW).

Complaints on social networks were not long in coming, and Internet users reported incidents in different areas of the Island. A Sancti Spíritus user warned that there were blackouts of more than six hours in 11 circuits in the province. “It’s bad,” he wrote, alluding to the difficulties of electricity generation.

A collaborator of this newspaper in that province was able to verify that, in fact, in several municipalities the electricity service is interrupted every four hours, a situation that is also repeated in other municipalities of Ciego de Ávila, Cienfuegos and Villa Clara, both during the day and overnight. However, the most serious mishaps occur in the rural areas, he explains.

Among the indignant remarks addressed to the UNE, a user from Santiago de Cuba pointed out that cuts in the province are frequent in the afternoon or early morning, which makes it difficult to rest. “Do you think that the analysis parameters for a pregnant woman can be normal after not sleeping due to a blackout of almost five hours and then awakening in the dark?” he questioned, describing the situation as psychological abuse.

As the hottest season begins in Cuba, the frequency and duration of blackouts increase. The National Electrical System (SEN) began a phase of new deterioration this Saturday, when the UNE reported that the service had been interrupted for 20 hours. The prospects for this Monday are not encouraging either, since the company expects the cuts to continue due to a deficit in the generation capacity of 400 MW.

According to the UNE report, unit 1 of the Santa Cruz thermoelectric plant (Mayabeque), unit 5 of Antonio Maceo (Rentté, in Santiago de Cuba), unit 2 of Felton (Holguín) and Energas-Boca de Jaruco, in Puerto Escondido, are out of service due to breakdowns. In addition, Guiteras, unit 5 of Nuevitas and unit 6 of Renté are under maintenance.

Despite the usual instability of the SEN, the head of Energy and Mines told the official press that maintenance work has been completed on the eve of the season of greater consumption and  that the projections point to “a considerable decrease in affectations” for this summer.

The minister said that the schedule of cuts could not be met in the first months of the year and shielded himself by saying that the damage caused to the power line was from forest fires, which forced the SEN to be disconnected four times in February.

In the interview with the official media, he also promised that there will soon be “a recovery” in the supply of fuels, which will lead to a decrease in the “uncomfortable lines” at gas stations, although he did not allude to the movement of oil tankers in the ports of the Island in recent months, and to the secrecy of the Government about their cargo and origin.

This Monday, according to the maritime observation pages, there are several tankers anchored at the docks in Havana. The Nicos I.V. sails with the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the Marianna V.V. (Matanzas), with the Liberian flag; and the NQ Calipso (Moa, Holguín), with the flag of the Netherlands. In addition, the arrival in Santiago de Cuba of the oil tanker Scot Hamburg is expected, coming from Kaliningrad, Russia and flying the flag of Malta, and the Cuban tanker Vilma will arrive in Cienfuegos from Venezuela.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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