Ongoing Blackouts, the Story that Never Ends in Cuba

The National Electrical Union confirmed that power outages will continue on the island. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 September 2021 — It’s the story that never ends,” says Leonardo, one of many people affected by the island’s ongoing power outages, in response to the explanation offered by Unión Eléctrica (UNE), the state power company. On Sunday morning UNE director Lazaro Guerra claimed power had been completely restored but warned that there would still be outages.

Though power has been restored, it does not mean that the problems with electric service the country has faced in recent days have been solved, as Guerra acknowledges. This was reiterated in a social media post which states that, if current conditions continue, “expectations are that disruptions in electricity service may occur due to a deficit in generating capacity.”

The company offered its “apologies for the inconvenience,” which only further frustrated those affected. “I don’t know how long this will go on. Every day there are new outages and repairs. When will they finally restore service everywhere?” asks Linney

Karlos made forty-seven calls to the designated UNE telephone line, #18888, for reporting power outage. “When I wasn’t getting a busy signal, it rang but no one answered… Nine hours without power and, from what I read, it’s going to be the same tomorrow. It’s infuriating to see what’s going on and that nothing is being done about it. Every day there’s a new breakdown and the saddest part is that they still charge you during the outages.”

14ymedio reported that a disruption on Saturday left several provinces in the dark until Friday night, a situation that in some cases lasted until dawn. The blackout was described in the state-run press as “an oscillation in the 220-thousand volt transmission lines.”

This unusual anomaly caused thermoelectric plants in Holguín and Santiago de Cuba, as well as engines at a fossil fuel power station in Moa, to drop off the national electric grid, causing a fall in generating capacity that led to a widespread blackout.

14ymedio received several reports indicating that by the early morning power remained out in areas of Santiago de Cuba, Holguín and several provinces in central Cuba. It was also confirmed on Sunday that the outages had spread to Guantanamo and Granma provinces.

Cubans are all too familiar with Guerra’s explanations: the failures are the result of technical problems resulting from lack of timely maintenance, which depletes the system’s reserves when demand is high.

The bad news is that maintenance to restore generating capacity is planned but, according to Guerra, it is dependent on the ability to get financing as well as the state of the nation’s electric grid.

At the moment outages are reported at CTE Otto Parallada, Units 5 and 7 at CTE Maximo Gomez, CTE Antonio Guiteras, Unit 5 at CTE Tenth of October, and Units 3 and 4 at CTE Antonio Maceo.


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