State of emergency called off, power goes out anyway

The CFE is struggling to keep up with power outages in the heat wave. Photo: Punto Medio
The CFE is struggling to keep up with power outages in the heat wave. Photo: Punto Medio

A federal agency has backed off its declaration that Yucatan’s power grid was in a state of emergency.

The National Energy Control Center, or Cenace, on Monday said it would declare a state of emergency on the Yucatan Peninsula, citing a lack of natural gas to generate energy.

But on Tuesday, Cenace issued a followup statement saying the state of operational emergency had “no foundation.”

The agency asked the national gas network to try harder transporting natural gas to the Peninsula. That would amp up the three power stations where capacity would have been cut.

The Federal Electricity Commission is also building a new stretch of pipeline from Campeche, the agency noted, capable of providing diesel to power stations here. Transmission lines between Ticul and Escárcega can also provide backups.

“The declaration of a state of operational emergency … at this time has no foundation … ” Cenace said.

Still, the region’s vulnerable power grid failed around 10 p.m. Tuesday, when a power outage hit the west side of Merida, El Universal reported. By midnight, lights were still out.

Cenace had previously reported a looming natural gas shortage that would require three power stations — at Mérida, Campeche and Valladolid — to reduce capacity.

The Merida III combined-cycle plant would operate at half-capacity during high-demand hours and disconnect from the grid completely at night, the federal agency said.

At least 985 megawatts are needed to guarantee power supply on the Yucatan Peninsula, but output could fall to as low as 732 megawatts, the agency said.

An official emergency declaration allows Cenace to instruct residents to slow their electricity use, or to create brownouts, redirecting power to areas it selects.

{ Read more about Yucatan’s power-grid issues }

Sources: El Universal, El Financiero

Yucatán Magazine

Yucatán Magazine is a news and information source for people who love it here. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.