Cuba’s Guiteras Thermal Electric Plant will be Out of Service for Three Months for Repairs

The Antonio Guiteras power plant managed to enter the National Electrical System on Tuesday, after repairing a breakdown in the boiler. (TV Yumurí/Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 October 2022 — The announcement that the Antonio Guiteras thermal power plant, in Matanzas, must be disconnected for three months for a comprehensive repair definitively contradicts Miguel Díaz-Canel’s promise about the end of the blackouts by December.

Outdated and defective technology, natural disasters and increasingly serious breakdowns, plus the impossibility of thorough maintenance, make the operation of the largest thermal electric plant in the country impossible. Its directors have received a “barrage of bad news,” said the official reporter Lázaro Manuel Alonso in a report on Cuban Television.

According to Alonso, Guiteras is faced with a dilemma: the progressive collapse of pipes, boilers and equipment, which makes it necessary to suspend service for 90 days, and, on the other hand, the impossibility of stopping the generation “under present circumstances.” At the moment, the journalist claimed, what’s left is only “innovating,” the euphemism that the managers continue demanding from the technical staff of the plant, until “better times” arrive.

It’s not strange that, in the face of the collapse of the plant and institutional pressure, many of its workers have decided to “emigrate” not only outside the Island, but to other less demanding and better-paid positions in Etecsa or outside the state sector. In addition, Alonso admits, there is a serious “wage demotivation,” since most technicians earn about 6,700 pesos*, an insignificant figure in the midst of the inflation that the Island is experiencing.

“After the financial reordering, we fell to a low level,” complained Yoandry Flores, one of the operators of the thermoelectric plant. Before, the Electric Union enjoyed good salaries, which covered his “needs,” he said.

In spite of everything,” justifies the reporter, “its workers, with low wages, now keep the unit online with more than 230 megawatts (MW),” a generation capacity that has demonstrated little stability in recent weeks.

The plant managed to enter the National Electricity System on Tuesday, after repairing a breakdown in the boiler. However, a cleaning of the structure and the replacement of several of its connecter tubes is still essential.

“It’s working but with risk and tension,” said Javier Quiroz, one of the directors interviewed by Alonso.

Meanwhile, the toll of the SEN’s collapse continues to be measured in the number of hours of blackouts, which reach twelve per day in most of the Island. Neither the continuous protests and caceralozos [banging on pots and pans] nor the dismissals of the Minister of Energy and Mines and the director of the Electric Union have solved the energy crisis on the Island.

*Translator’s note: The official and information market exchange rates between the dollar and the peso change constantly but, as of this writing, 6,700 pesos at the official exchange rate would yield $279 US. The informal market (often the only available) exchange rate would yield roughly $33 US.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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