Cuba’s crumbling infrastructure
UM professor: Cuba’s electricity has been sagging for years
Cuba’s electricity sector has been going steadily downhill in the past five or six years because of bad investments, lack of controls and hurricane damages, according to an updated report by a University of Miami professor.
“They had a little improvement until 2005 or 2006, but since then it’s been falling,” said Manuel Cereijo, a professor of electrical engineering who has long monitored the sector and written several reports on its activity.
Cereijos’ latest figures show that the electricity lost between the generating plants and consumers rose from 18 percent of power generated in 2005 to 30 percent last year, compared to about 5 percent in other countries.
The number of days with blackouts rose from 100 to 125 in the same period, he reported, and the total time of interruptions in the system rose from 480,000 hours in 2008 to 900,000 hours last year.
Meanwhile, peak demand rose steadily, from 2,200 megawatts to 3,500 megawatts, leading to interruptions and other problems. The island today needs an immediate addition of 500 megawatts in generating capacity, Cereijo added.
Cuba was hit by a growing string of blackouts last summer, capped by a massive outage in September that left an estimated 5 million people without power for up to 12 hours in the western half of the island.
Cereijo said he gathers his figures from the Cuban government’s own National Statistics Office (ONE), electricity sector employees who defected and now live abroad and companies that sell equipment to the island, among others.
A retired deputy dean of the engineering faculty at Florida International University, Cereijo wrote a lengthy report on Cuba’s power sector in 2011. He will present an update at UM on April 17.
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