With the Felton and Guiteras Power Plants Out of Combat, a New Season of Blackouts Arrives in Cuba

The Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, in Matanzas, is the most important in the west of the Island. (ACN)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 26 January 2024 — In just two hours, a storm of indignant comments has fallen on the Facebook page of the Electric Union of Cuba (UNE), which announces for this Friday a deficit of 1,010 megawatts (MW) during peak hours. The figure is one of the highest that can be remembered, after November 12, 2023, when it predicted an “affectation” of 1,000 MW. The enormous deficit in electricity is more than double that of yesterday (482 MW), when some provinces reported power outages and internet failures to this newspaper.

As warned by the UNE, the situation is due to breakdowns in unit 6 of the Maximo Gómez power plant in Mariel; a unit of the Antonio Guiteras in Matanzas; the 5 of Diez de Octubre in Nuevitas; unit 6 of Antonio Maceo in Renté and unit 2 of the Lidio Ramón Pérez in Felton.

It is only two days since the UNE announced the shutdown of the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant for 72 hours due to maintenance

Although the report places the breakdown in the Antonio Guiteras, the main power plant in the West, it is only two days since the UNE announced the shutdown of the thermoelectric plant for 72 hours for maintenance. Today’s UNE announcement indicates that Mariel’s unit 8 is also undergoing maintenance.

Incomprehensibly, the UNE made the decision to continue with the maintenance of the Guiteras at the same time that the Felton thermoelectric plant, which is the most important in the east of the Island, had just broken down. The failure at the Felton occurred on Sunday, a day after there was no deficit, and only a week after its most recent synchronization with the National Energy System (SEN), on January 15.

In August 2022, at the time of the biggest crisis of the electricity system in the last two years, Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the plant. The Felton is a mirror in which the state of energy in Cuba is reflected. That day, the president uttered a phrase that haunts the plant. “Felton 1 decides today on the course of the recovery strategy, and its start is vital for the fulfillment of the objectives set, in the first order, to minimize or eliminate the blackouts by next December.”

If the situation depends on the state of Felton, the infinity of breakdowns it has suffered since then highlights the panorama, aggravated by the (apparently planned) shutdown of the Guiteras, the most important power plant in the west of the Island.

The UNE has pointed out that, for peak time, “the entry of 6 engines in the Patana de Melones with 90 MW is estimated

The UNE has pointed out that, for peak hours, “the entry of 6 engines in the Patana de Melones with 90 MW and the entry of unit 6 of the CTE Mariel with 100 MW is estimated,” which will bring little relief. Indignation is already spreading among customers, who in just a month will see the bill for “big consumers” rise.

“Those 1,000 MW are consumed by Havana and paid for by the other provinces,” a user writes, with capital letters that denote his indignation. Most, however, were ironic, knowing that it would be of little use to bother. “That’s great, I’m very happy. New season of the blackout poster. We will see how this season ends and a new one appears. Long live the Ministry and its mysteries,” another mocks.

Minister Vicente de la O Levy, who replaced Liván Arronte after the catastrophe of 2022, is now in the crosshairs, and a few days ago his ministry reported that in 2023 there were 70% fewer blackouts than the previous year. But not everyone supports him. “The minister is going too far with his fantastic strategy. The other guy was better,” says another commentator.

Translated by Regina Anavy

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.