14ymedio, Havana, 6 November 2022 — The largest thermoelectric power plant in Cuba, Antonio Guiteras de Matanzas, was disconnected again this Saturday. The Electric Union of Cuba (UNE) reported that its departure from the National Electricity System was due to a “technological failure” that occurred 19 days after its synchronization to the network.
In an article in the official newspaper Cubadebate, the UNE pointed out that Guiteras is still out of the system for maintenance work this Sunday, as are units 4 and 5 of Nuevitas, Camagüey, and unit 3 of Renté, in Santiago de Cuba.
In addition, units 6 and 7 of the Mariel thermoelectric plant, in the province of Artemisa, and the Otto Parellada power plant in Havana are out of service due to breakdowns. Also out of service are unit 3 of Santa Cruz, Mayabeque; unit 4 of Cienfuegos and unit 2 of Felton, in Holguín.
For this Sunday, the UNE forecast is that there will be a generation capacity of 2,100 megawatts (MW) for a maximum demand of 3,100 MW in the peak hour, with which the deficit would be 1,000 MW. That is, 32.2% of the electricity demand required by Cuban households will not be covered.
The maximum impact on the service on Saturday night was 1,187 MW at 8:20 p.m., coinciding with the peak hour, when 21 MW were not generated due to damage to the plants after the passage of Hurricane Ian.
The Government warned in October that the Antonio Guiteras power plant would be out of the national electrical system for three months for the comprehensive repair of its outdated and defective technology, which makes its operation impossible. The thermoelectric plant has also been affected by the fire in the Matanzas supertanker fuel base and by the passage of Hurricane Ian.
Vicente de la O’Levy, Minister of Energy and Mines, said on October 31 that the “capital maintenance” of Cuba’s largest thermoelectric plant will take place between November 2022 and June 2023. The official assured that the work will be done “with great precision” and will include rigourous diagnoses “without false optimism.”
The exit from operation of the Guiteras plant again raises questions about the ability of the Díaz-Canel Government to fullfil its promise: that by December 2022 the blackouts, exacerbated since last May, will end. The blackouts have been the main trigger for the protests in Nuevitas and other parts of the country.
In the article published by the newspaper, negative comments abound about the plant’s exit from operation. “Didn’t this thermoelectric receive maintenance recently? How is this possible now? Who explains this? Are all failures not technological? No one believes what the electrical company says about maintenance, repairs, etc. Is it a practical joke?” questioned the commentator, identified as Jorge Milanés.
At the end of October, the authorities announced that the Lidio Ramón Pérez thermoelectric plant, also known as Felton, in Mayarí, would stop again for seven days to perform maintenance work, but its unit 2 is already out of service due to breakdowns.
Euclides Rodríguez Mejías, general director of the plant, explained that improving the efficiency of the boiler is the essential objective, specifically high-pressure heaters and recirculating gas fans. After the work, the official added, the block is expected to produce between 250 and 260 MW.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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