By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ | Associated Press
(original title:Cuba sounds summer energy alarm, plans blackouts)
Cubans are in for an especially hot summer under an energy saving plan that could shut off air conditioners at work and require Saturday-morning blackouts at home, according to an unpublished government directive obtained by The Associated Press.
The plan, signed by new Economics Minister Marino Murillo and circulating Tuesday among government offices and state companies, also calls for large-scale vacations for government workers. The measures are necessary, it says, to conserve petroleum used to generate electricity during the Caribbean nation’s sweltering summer months.
The directive says the government is alarmed by unexpected increases in petroleum use this year and the “exceptional measures” will take effect Monday. It says 40,000 extra metric tons of petroleum were used during the first three months of the year to cover an unplanned 3 percent increase in electricity over what was projected for that period.
Residential electrical use can often triple in the summer because of fans and air conditioners.
The island produces about half its oil and receives the rest from Venezuela on highly preferential terms. Most of Cuba’s electricity is generated by crude.
Conservation plans will be prescribed for each province, and every government department must file a daily report on electrical use.
The directive says blackouts should not be scheduled during regular cooking times, to minimize the impact on homes. In addition to disconnecting air conditioners at workplaces, lighting at some businesses will be shut off.
Official Cuban media in recent days have called for workers to labor harder and not waste petroleum and other resources.