, 18 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
I went to the heart of Venezuela’s transmission system in Guarico to try to find out what’s going on with the grid. Here’s why partial blackouts are unfortunately likely to persist for a while. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
This is Venezuela’s main power distribution hub, the San Geronimo B substation outside Valle de la Pascua on Sunday. It was shut since Thursday. A cow roamed among transformers. No buzz from current. Workers said most of them were sent home indefinitely Friday.
San Geronimo B is the only path for high-voltage (765 KV) supplies from Guri to 80% of Venezuelan population (Caracas, Central & Western Venezuela).
The nearby San Geronimo A back up substation transmits much weaker 400 current from Macagua hydro plant near Guri to Caracas vía Santa Teresa. It’s been working on & off last 2 days. This, together with some limited thermal, is what’s been keeping intermittent light in Caracas.
Corpoelec current, former employees & power expert @SoyJoseAguilar said this is unsustainable. The 400 KV line is too weak. Caracas outgrew is capacity already in early 80s when it launched Metro.
Is it possible to provide stable supply to the country without San Geronimo B? “Impossible,” said @SoyJoseAguilar
The La Horqueta substation in Villa de Cura, which sends Guri’s power to Valencia and onwards west via San Geronimo was also down Sunday. This is very bad news for Western Venezuela. They are last in line.
San Geronimo B is not working because it’s not getting sufficient (if any) current from Guri. That’s the scariest part. It provides evidence that the government is far from successfully restarting its turbines.
What caused the Guri failure? Corpoelec union leader Ali Briceño said it was brush fire under the 765 KV trunkline which caused a surge in the system and caused Guri to shut down. There are no skilled operators left there to restart it.
It did happen before. No one is cutting grass or maintaining fire breaks under the trunkline.
Briceno’s theory is “possible but not probably,” said one of the people who built that trunkline. Fire would’ve had to occur in a relatively small stretch, between Guri & the first 765 KV substation, Malena, for that to happen.
There are also three parallel 765 KV lines running at a distance from each other. Unlikely the fire would’ve affected them all.
Most people I talked to say the problem had to occur inside Guri’s turbines themselves. And that’s a scary thought. If they are damaged, they will be very hard to replace or repair. No money or skilled people.
One Corpoelec manager said after the blackout a Guri operator told him “the turbines are failing,” before hanging up. He hasn’t been able to reach anyone there since. Sebin is a constant menace.
And without Guri, it’s Mad Max.
The government’s failure to present a coherent explanation is only raising my fears that something really bad has happened. First it was industrial sabotage, then it was cyber attack.
Government has already cancelled classes Monday and @vladimirpadrino said “there’s still a lot to do” Sunday. These are not signs of imminent solution to this nightmare.
Another angle of one of the most important pieces of power infrastructure in the country. La Horqueta. 10.03
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