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Blackout in 18 states: Mexico’s second heatwave of 2024 melts CFEs ability to keep up

Riviera Maya, Q.R. — A blackout felt in 18 states across Mexico Tuesday is being blamed on the high demand for power. A second heatwave that has hit nearly all of the country has created an electrical demand greater than the supply.

On Wednesday, Mexico’s Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN) reported 11 states who continue to record daytime temperatures above 45C (113F). The continued extreme heat has put stress on the country’s CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) to keep up with the heightened demand for electricity.

On Tuesday, the Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (National Energy Control Center) reported a state of emergency operation due to the extremely high demand. That demand resulted in a blackout in 18 Mexican states, one of which included Quintana Roo.

The high demand for power resulted in a blackout in 18 states including Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Photo: May 7, 2024.

Some areas of the Yucatan Peninsula felt the temporary power outage as the Mexico’s state-owned power company struggled to keep up with the high usage. Through its website, the National Energy Control Center (Cenace) made the report shortly after 5:00 p.m. Tuesday due to a high demand for electrical energy.

While the alert lasted less than an hour, some areas of Cancun and Playa del Carmen reported experiencing the power outage for nearly two hours before returning to a ‘normal operational state’.

Electrical demand figures for early morning May 8, 2024.

According to the Cenace website, the demand for electrical energy peaked at 48,472 MW at 5:00 p.m., which represented its highest level of the day.

Arturo Carranza, energy sector specialist, said “the high temperatures that are being recorded in some regions of the country are leading to an increase in electricity demand which in turn stresses the system.

“To achieve conditions of reliability and safety in the operation, Cenace issues these alerts or emergency operating states which are accompanied by other actions to reduce stress.”

A residential area of Playa del Carmen was left without electricity Tuesday evening due to the blackout. Photo: May 7, 2024.

He also said that technically, a blackout cannot be predicted. “The truth is that given the high temperatures, we must wait for Cenace to make decisions to guarantee the reliable and safe supply of electrical energy.”

He said the alert could have been issued by either of two scenarios, “the first of which could be due to the fact that the reserve margin was below 6 percent, but there could also be an impact on the electrical load.

“We infer that it was a scenario in which the reserve margin was below 6 percent or it is also possible that it was a load impact due to some fortuitous event in the network or operation.”

Tuesday’s blackout affected CDMX, San Luis Potosi, State of Mexico,Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Puebla, Querertaro, Baja California Sur , Jalisco , Coahuila , Sinaloa, Monterey, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

This is Mexico’s second official heat wave of the year. The first was issued in mid-April after the Yucatan Peninsula recorded days of 35C (95F) to 40C (104F) degree temperatures.

The electrical stress is expected to continue with forecasts of 45C days for many of these states. Last week, Belize began scheduled electrical cuts to border areas after Mexico’s CFE curtailed its power supply into the neighboring country as it struggles to provide electricity for its own residents.