Western Cuba Goes Dark After Power Line Disruption

Residents of Cuba’s capital Havana and millions of others living in an area stretching 450 miles from the nation’s southeastern province of Camaguey to the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio experienced a massive blackout on Sunday night caused by an "interruption" in a 220-kV transmission line, the government said.

A press release issued by the Electric National Enterprise (UNE) and the Ministry of Basic Industry (MINBAS) said an investigation into the cause of the disruption in the line between the cities of Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara was under way.

Power outages are commonplace in Cuba, which has a population of about 11 million, but blackouts on the scale that hit the island nation on Sunday night are rare. According to news reports, the power went out just after 8 p.m. on Sept. 9. It was restored in much of the affected area within two hours, but some residents in Havana reportedly endured outages lasting nearly five hours.

Reuters on Monday reported that three power plants had been shut down when the blackout occurred.

The bulk of Cuba’s power is generated, transmitted, and distributed by the state-owned enterprises. The Public Service Enterprise has an installed capacity of 3,267 MW, most of which are liquid-fuel thermoelectric plants. According to MINBAS, the country has begun a wide modernization program for the existing thermoelectric power plants to make them more efficient and to decrease oil consumption, for which Cuba heavily relies on Venezuelan supplies.

Sources: POWERnews, Cuba Ministry of Basic Industry, Reuters

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)

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