Cuba’s Villa Clara Province Announces a Change in Planning for Blackouts and Fewer Hours of Classes

In the province “not only blackouts have increased but also the hours they last”

Two girls at the Vo Thi Thang primary school / EFE/Yander Zamora

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 20, 2024 — The General Directorate of Education for Villa Clara, Cuba, has modified school schedules due to the serious electricity deficit that afflicts the province. In a statement made public this Sunday , the authorities say that “the educational centers remain open” (from 6:30 a.m. for day care centers and 7:00 a.m. for schools), but teaching hours will not begin until 10 a.m.

“In the early hours of the morning, recreational and complementary activities will be carried out until the start of the first class shift and will continue until the usual schedule,” says the text, which specifies that classes will be given from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4:20 pm.

To “clarify doubts or concerns,” they promised meetings with families today and tomorrow with the presence of an Education official.

The dark panorama of the energy situation in Villa Clara was made clear on Saturday by the governor, Milaxy Yanet Sánchez Armas, and the first provincial secretary of the Party, Osnay Miguel Colina Rodríguez. “Much more tense,” they acknowledged. “Since May 5, not only have the blackouts increased but also the hours they last.”

“In the early hours of the morning, recreational and complementary activities will be carried out until the start of the first class shift and will continue until the usual time”

Before that date, “there were blackouts but we had greater capacity to maneuver. The block programming established in Villa Clara could be respected,” the officials said. However, later, the deficit has not allowed the province to “fulfill the rotation.”

In the summary of the appearance of Sánchez Armas and Colina Rodríguez they indicated that Villa Clara “will lose between 12% and 14% of the country’s load” and it was announced that, after several meetings with specialists there will be “a historical analysis” of the province’s hourly demand, from which they will develop “new planning for blackouts.”

It was taken into consideration, from the most favorable situation to the most critical, and a medium scenario was established, which means that 70% of Villa Clara’s demand load is not available, that is, 70% of the province is turned off. However, there have been times when 85% and even 90% of the demand load has been out.

“Based on the experts’ proposal, the concept of a block is broken, because it is not possible to maneuver,” says the text published in the official press, which claims to start from a medium scenario: that 70% of the province is turned off.

With the new distribution, which began early this Monday, 16 groups of circuits – with a maximum load of 18 megawatts (MW) – “would alternate up to 8 hours of blackout and then three with power.”

And the desire is: “We hope that the system improves its capabilities and it is not 8 hours without power, that is, that the annoying blackout time is reduced.”

The “particularity” of Villa Clara, the officials explain, is that “with the exception of the Hanabanilla hydroelectric plant, we are not a province that generates electrical energy.” Given that the main plants are in the West and East of the Island, “to transmit energy from one region to another without frequency imbalances occurring, sometimes we have to remove loads.”

On Friday, without going any further, the authorities excused themselves, because the circuit that affected the cell phone had to be disconnected. That day coincided, precisely, with the report of several protests throughout the country as a result of the blackouts.

In several neighborhoods of Baracoa , Guantánamo, such as Cabacú, La Laguna and El Paraíso, residents came out on Thursday to shout “we want food!” and “we want power!” The next day, Friday, the cauldrons rang [people beating on pots and pans] in another neighborhood, El Jamal, as confirmed by a local source to 14ymedio.

The authorities rushed to reduce the tension, trying to show that they were “with the people, in the most difficult moments.” Thus, they published images on networks showing officials supposedly listening to residents complain about the blackouts.

The authorities rushed to reduce the tension by trying to show that they were “with the people, in the most difficult moments”

Likewise, national television broadcast a long report – repeated by the State newspaper Granma – in which Alfredo López, general director of the Cuban Electrical Union (UNE), did everything possible to reassure the population by ensuring that during the weekend they would reconnect two units of the Máximo Gómez thermoelectric plant, from Mariel, in Artemisa, that were out of service, and one more from Nuevitas, in Camagüey.

The official regretted that the average blackout was between 12 and 16 hours, and concluded his statement: “The combat is great, people are fighting, we are aware and sensitive that the situation is very difficult, but what we can tell you is the only thing we can tell you: that our people are fighting.”

On Sunday, the deficit once again exceeded 1,000 MW (1,095) and for this Monday, the forecast, according to the UNE report, was close to that, with 975 MW.

Among the measures announced by the Villa Clara government on Saturday are the sale of “processed food” in both state and non-state food service establishments, increasing the production of bread and forcing state vehicles “to stop at collection points* and contribute to the mobility of the population.”

The inhabitants of the rest of the provinces fear the moment when the restrictions reach them. In Havana, for the moment, a block blackout program has been spread, which includes four hours of blackout for each area for five out of seven days of the week, a schedule that authorities warn may increase in the number of hours without supply.

*Translator’s note: It has long been State policy in Cuba that government vehicles stop and pick up ’hitchhikers’ at designated spots, a policy not always adhered to.


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