Protests in Cienfuegos on a Day of More Blackouts in Cuba

One of the most dramatic scenarios took place in Sancti Spíritus on Tuesday when they couldn’t even comply with the agreed blackout schedule / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 May 2024 — Blackouts in Cuba reached a new record on Tuesday when the power deficit exceeded 1,400 megawatts (MW) during peak demand hours. The desperation due to the lack of electricity at night caused dozens of residents of Ciudad Nuclear, in Cienfuegos, to take to the streets to protest. Videos posted by Martì Noticias on Wednesday showed the crowd banging on pots and pans and shouting slogans, and the police arriving.

Tuesday’s report from the Electric Union of Cuba (UNE) predicted the worst – an availability of 1,980 MW and a maximum demand of 3,350 MW; that is, a deficit of 1,370 MW, which would cause an “impact” of 1,440 MW at this time – but Wednesday’s forecast barely improves the situation. For a similar maximum demand (3,360 MW) the availability improves slightly (2,319 MW), so the peak hour deficit will be 1,041 MW with an “impact” of 1,111 MW. This means more than a third of the Island will experience blackouts today.

According to the UNE’s statement, the slight improvement is due to the commissioning of generators – until now out of service due to lack of fuel – as well as the entrance of 3 power plant units: unit 6 of the Mariel thermoelectric power plant (CTE) into the national energy service (SEN), even though it is damaged; unit 4 of Energas Varadero, which is under maintenance; and the Puerto Escondido unit.

The official press tried to calm the waters on Wednesday. Lazaro Guerra Hernandez, UNE’s technical director, assured that the “synchronization” of several thermoelectric units to the SEN “in the coming days” would reduce blackouts.

Specifically, the official referred to unit 6 of the Nuevitas plant, one that “should follow” unit 1 of Felton and “the combined cycle” of Energas Varadero. Then, unit 3 of Santa Cruz del Norte, and, “towards the end of the week,” unit 5 of Mariel. In total, there will be an additional 500 to 550 MW, promised Guerra, who acknowledged that “the situation during Monday and Tuesday has been very complex, given the impossibility of meeting the demand and the exit from service due to breakdowns in three units.

One of the most dramatic scenarios was in Sancti Spíritus, where they could not even comply with the agreed blackout schedule this Tuesday

“We can’t comply with the usual schedule, since the deficit exceeds what was expected in each block” was how the UNE’s division in that territory apologized, while at the same time warning that power from one of the blocks would be cut off for six hours (during peak hours, from 4 pm to 10 pm).

The worst is not only the heat but also the mosquitoes; because the fans can’t work, the rooms are filled with them. Hence the almost surreal scenes that the inhabitants of the Island share on social media, like people sleeping outdoors covered by a mosquito net.

Visiting Havana from Sancti Spíritus, Alicia shares with this newspaper an eloquent anecdote. “I’m overwhelmed by the blackouts. Here in Havana, I wake up at dawn exactly the same time as the power goes off. It sounds funny but it’s not. ”

Translated by LAR


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