Despite the Change of Minister, More Power Plants are Shutting Down in Cuba

The breakdown will translate into more blackouts not only for Cienfuegos, but also for other provinces that depend on the generating capacity of the plant. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 October 2022 — On the same day that the official press dedicated a triumphalist article to the “stability” of the thermoelectric plant (CTE) Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, in Cienfuegos, unit 4 of this plant was disconnected from the National Electrical System (SEN).

With the usual euphemisms, a brief note from the Cuban News Agency reported on Monday that, due to “boiler failures,” the unit is subjected to a “natural cooling” process that will last three or four days, even if “forced-air fans” are used.

Beyond the technical explanations, as usual, the breakdown will result in more blackouts not only for Cienfuegos, but also for other provinces that depend on the generating capacity of the plant. “We have had to provide part of the energy that other thermoelectric plants have not been able to generate due to technical problems,” the general director of the Céspedes, Yeranis Zurita García, complained to the official newspaper Granma.

In the same report, the Granma boasted that in the daily deliveries, generation of the Cienfueguos thermoelectric plant is “recognized in the country for its levels of stability.”

Zurita indicated that, “despite the problems,” they exceeded their gross generation plan at the end of September with 132.4%, a surplus that had to be sent to other territories of the country.

Less optimistic, engineer Dariel Jiménez, of the Céspedes Brigade of Protections and Electrical Schemes, admitted that “practically every day there are breakdowns or other difficulties.”

“The breakage of the main transformer of the machine outlet had to be resolved “in a matter of 15 minutes,” he said regretfully, a not-ideal solution at which the technicians arrived “with what we had at hand.”

Urgency and short-term solutions are the daily bread of Cuban thermoelectric plants, said Jiménez, whose team is required to fix everything “in the shortest possible time” on a technology “with many years of exploitation.”

The head of maintenance of Céspedes, Yunior Estrada Zambrano, said that “we have characterized ourselves as always doing everything we can, sometimes against the short time that the system gives us.” However, he recognizes that the generation is “very depressed.”

Determined to highlight “the sacrifice and effort” of the Céspedes, Granma didn’t flinch in recognizing that unit 4 had left the National Electricity System (SEN). As the Unión Eléctrica logbook points out, it is added to the list of blocks out of service next to units 6 and 7 of the CTE Mariel (Mayabeque), the 4 and 5 of Nuevitas (Camagüey), the 2 of the Felton (Holguín), the 3, 4 and 5 of Renté (Santiago de Cuba and the only one of Otto Parellada (Havana). About the CTE Antonio Guiteras, which left the SEN this Friday, the official reporter Lázaro Manuel Alonso announced on his networks that it had already been “synchronized” again and that Televisión Cubana would offer more details about its operation.

The UNE report adds that the maximum impact during the night, this Monday, was 1,568 megawatts (MW) at 7:20 p.m., while this Tuesday a maximum demand of 3,200 is expected for a deficit of 1,125 MW.

The National Electricity System hasn’t shown signs of improvement in recent months and has been especially affected by the explosion of the Matanzas Supertanker Base and the passage of Hurricane Ian through the west of the country.

On Monday, the seriousness of the energy situation cost the Minister of Energy and Mines, Liván Arronte Cruz, and the director of the UNE, Jorge Amado Cepero Hernández, their positions. The new managers of the SEN, Minister Vicente de la O Levy and director Alfredo López, will have to attend to a system whose collapse has caused numerous protests against the long blackouts.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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