Cuba blames Hurricane Ian for total power blackout as citizens, experts raise questions of regime competency
The nationwide blackout has raised questions about the competency of Cuban regime officials, the effectiveness of the state owned electrical company that distributes energy throughout the island, and the functionality of the country's electrical grid
September 28, 2022 4:59pm
Updated: September 28, 2022 7:47pm
The island of Cuba suffered a nationwide power blackout Tuesday afternoon after the western part of the island was struck by Hurricane Ian, leaving regime officials and its state sponsored electrical utility company struggling to come up with an "explanation."
To make matters worse, shortly after the island suffered an electrical blackout, the state-owned telecommunications monopoly, ETECSA, also reported that Internet access through mobile data was also affected.
Cuban Communist Party news portal Cubadebate struggled to give citizens an "explanation" on Wednesday as to why the regime-run Unión Eléctrica (UNE) utility company left the entire island in darkness and practically disconnected from the Internet.
But the nationwide blackout has raised questions about the competency of Cuban regime officials, the effectiveness of the state owned electrical company that distributes energy throughout the island, and the functionality of the country's electrical grid.
Journalist José Raúl Gallego said on Facebook: "This hurricane only touched Cuba on one corner and has turned the island upside down. Just imagine if before December we are hit by one that affects a good part of the country, as it has happened on other occasions."
Cuba's electricity grid is separated into three areas, and most of the hurricane damage impacted the western part of the island where repair crews were reportedly trying to restore power, Unión Eléctrica and state controlled media said in a series of overnight tweets.
Repair crews were reportedly able to start generating electrical power gradually back in the east, as officials hoped to generate enough power to connect the three sections of the grid.
"One of the two transmission lines [of the thermoelectric plant] Guiteras 200 kV- Matanzas, 200 kV tripped due to weather conditions as a result of a broken protective cable," the state run electric company said on Wednesday at 5:24 p.m.
"The other transmission line... tripped, causing the SEN [National Electroenergy System] to be linked by the transmission line... which immediately went out of service as it could not support the power transfer," the company said in a subsequent update at 5:52 p.m. This incident caused "a power imbalance due to the excess of generation in the western zone and the deficit of generation in the central-eastern zone... instability in both zones and, consequently, a total failure of the SEN."
Reports also suggest that at the time of the breakdowns, there was a power deficit of "835 MW [megawatts] due to hurricane damage in the provinces from Pinar del Río to Mayabeque" according to the state-owned company.
UNE has reported it is working "to create isolated micro-systems with distribution generators, which have made it possible to provide electrical service to some of the consumers in Havana... which have already synchronized to the SEN."
Cubadebate adds that other units are in the process of "starting up."
The official explanations to the total blackout were received with skepticism and annoyance by Cubans who voiced their frustration on social media networks, after months continued problems amid Cuba's energy crisis.
Gallego said he believes the island's Communist Party leaders "must be removed at once or there will be very little left to save if one day they decide to leave, which I doubt at this point."