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Posted January 19, 2006 by I-taoist in Castro's Cuba

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President Fidel Castro announced a long-awaited renovation of Cuba’s energy system to combat blackouts that have afflicted the island nation for the past two summers.

Castro said Cuba would decentralize its power system, gradually replacing five massive fuel-fired electricity plants with smaller, regional plants supplemented by solar and wind power. He outlined the plan in a speech delivered Tuesday night and published Wednesday in state newspapers.

Because the electricity plants in Cuba are so large, mechanical difficulties in any one can affect large areas populated by millions of people. Many of last summer’s blackouts were caused by problems at Antonio Guiteras, a key electricity plant serving Havana’s 2 million inhabitants and neighboring cities.

In the wake of the problems that caused severe blackouts across the island beginning in 2004, “new ideas about the development of a more efficient and secure national electrical system have been put into practice,” Castro said. He said Cuba had ordered more than 4,000 diesel and oil generators and more than 3,000 had already been delivered.

Generators have been installed to maintain power during emergencies at critical sites such as hospitals, schools, meteorological stations and tourist hotels, Castro said.

Blackouts occur in Cuba yearround, but they increase during the hot summer months when electricity use spikes. Problems in the electrical grid are compounded in the late summer and fall when hurricanes batter the island with high winds and heavy rainfall, causing additional damage to the antiquated infrastructure and often knocking out power in some regions for days.

Last summer, Cubans sweltered during frequent blackouts that kept them from operating fans and water pumps when the heat topped 90 degrees.

In many homes, milk and other refrigerated food spoiled, and power surges damaged refrigerators, televisions and other appliances difficult to replace on meager Cuban salaries.

Castro has promised Cubans since early 2005 that a major overhaul of the electrical grid was being planned.

The plan also calls for replacing old electrical cables and for conducting government studies on ways to make better use of solar and wind energy, Castro said.

He detailed the proposal in a more than two-hour speech to electrical workers and Communist Party faithful in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 19, 2006 by Chuck Bailey

    There is only one way to resolve Cuba’ electric supply problem. Nuclear energy.
    After the installation of mini-power generators to serve the public facilities are in place. I wonder what the motivation will be to not make timely repairs on generators that serve the little people. Anybody figure out the cost of maintaining this new idea over ten -twenty years?

  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 20, 2006 by yumaguy with 176 total posts

    Nuclear energy? No way will the U.S. allow that as long as the present regime is in power. . .

  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 20, 2006 by Chuck Bailey

    I see in a recent Fidel statement that he has distributed 614,000 new light bulbs. Took 26,000 volunteers,That’ one bulb for every eighteen people. That should really make a difference.
    He is claiming to reduce the electric crisis by placing 4000 mini-generators ( gas driven)at locations to serve public type buildings. If he is leaving the aged, old big generators plants on line to serve the residential, what happens when they go down? If he can’t afford to repair them now, how is he going to maintain the new one and fix the old ones? After all they only serve the little people.  Chuck  

  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 21, 2006 by blubb

    Chuck, that’ not entirely right. If he said something about 600.000 “saver” light bulbs thats probably just for one province, because cuban press has earlier said that 14 million has been distributed. Also they are collecting old television sets, refrigirators and other appliances using lots of energy and replacing them with new ones. Sound like a sound decicion in a country where electricity is (even after the hikes) heavily subsidized by the state. They have even offered private persons completely new cars if their old one is destructed. This makes sense as also fuel is heavily subsidized and the new cars they are buying use perhaps 3-4 times less fuel than the old ones. Also they are building wind mill parks and powering more buildings with solar energy all over this country. If executed properly (I still have my doubts that it will be) this COULD actually, as Fidel said, be the beginning of a new energy policy influencing also the policies of other countries.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on January 21, 2006 by Chuck Bailey

    I only Know what I read in the Granma news releases. Chuck

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