Cuba Registers a ‘Large-Scale Electrical Breakdown’ in Santa Clara, the First of the Year

The workers of the Cuban Electrical Union had to spend the night fixing the pole and the collateral effects. (UNE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 5, 2024 — Bad news for the year’s energy forecast. The collapse of a pole in front of the Unión Cuba Petróleo Company (Cupet) at the exit of the Santa Clara Subplant, in the province of Villa Clara, is the first incident described by the authorities as a “large-scale electrical breakdown.”

The event occurred at 3 in the afternoon on line 861, 33kV, and left six circuits of the main city without electricity. According to Yadier Ruiz Sánchez, director of the load dispatch of the Electric Company in the province, after 4 in the afternoon the service had been restored in half of them, with three others still affected, the 5th, the 9th and the 17th.

The broken post was not the only problem. According to the local press, “when service was returned to these circuits, a technical problem also occurred in the corresponding substation,” so repairs had to continue during the night. The workers spent the early morning replacing the pole and, at the same time, “regenerating the damaged disconnectors,” said the manager, who announced that the work would continue as long as necessary.

  “The circuits that already have the service may have a blackout again precisely to carry out the synchronization itself”

“Once both breakdowns have been resolved, the reconnection process may take some time, so as not to cause other accidents, and the circuits that already have the service may have a blackout again precisely to carry out the synchronization itself,” added Ruiz Sánchez.

“We started the year well,” was the general reaction among Santa Clara residents to the information offered by the different channels of the Electrical Union of Cuba (UNE) and Villa Clara’s citizen and media portals. “The maintenance that leaves us without power for more than six hours, what are they for?” asked a customer. “Isn’t the entire circuit checked? Because not long ago there was maintenance on that line and now a pole is broken, which was surely in poor condition, we have been without electricity for more than five hours and there are children without food. If maintenance is carried out, it must be carried out correctly, because they leave us without electricity that day and then a pole breaks without any wind. If we get hit by a cyclone, we will spend weeks without power.”

Almost at the same time, the official Canal Caribe broadcast a report that tried to answer the question : What are the forecasts for electricity generation for 2024 in Cuba?

In it, the UNE prided itself on having been able to reduce “unforeseen outages” – in reference to the disconnections of the thermoelectric unit system – compared to 2022. According to its data, Cuba had almost 70% less time with blackouts due to a deficit in generation capacities and all thanks to planning and preventive maintenance.

“This inevitably results in a better service and greater generation for our people,” says Edier Guzmán Pacheco, a UNE thermal generation engineer who explained all the work successfully carried out in 2023, including those of the two main central plants, the Lidio Ramón Pérez, from Felton, in Mayarí (Holguín), and the Antonio Guiteras, in Matanzas.

Both have once again suffered a year of working and failing, some planned and others “unforeseen,” which summarizes Guzmán Pacheco’s description of the arrangements.

  “This inevitably results in a better service and a greater generation for our people”

“Last year it was confirmed how much preventive maintenance represents to avoid failures and stoppages (…) This maintenance, which was not deep, which was not fundamental, which did not solve the fundamental problems but which was programmed and effectively executed where they needed the machines most and where it had the most influence on the stability and reliability of the units,” he said.

For this year the same will be attempted, he said, although among the main works will be that of Guiteras, with a “capital intervention” that requires bringing parts from abroad, some in the manufacturing process and others in the contracting process.

In January 2023, after a year marked by blackouts, the protests that followed them and the dismissal of the Minister of Energy and Mines, his replacement, Vicente de la O Levy, promised an improvement in the situation thanks, also, to more maintenance. The leader assured that the power outages would be “two or three hours long. And not to everyone and not to all provinces,” but it only took one month for six-hour blackouts to begin to be reported and in summer the blackouts already exceeded 12 and 14 hours.


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