Cuba lifts ban on energy-hogging appliances

AP News
Posted: May 21, 2013 10:58 AM

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba has authorized individual imports of appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and microwave ovens, lifting a ban imposed in 2005 amid a wave of energy shortages and blackouts.

Islanders can now bring up to two such appliances per person into the country for noncommercial purposes, according to a law enacted with its publication Monday in the Official Gazette.

The list of approved items includes air conditioners with a capacity of less than 1 ton, ovens that consume less than 1,500 watts and microwaves under 2,000 watts.

It also covers things including water heaters, toasters and irons.

Personal importation of energy-sucking appliances was restricted eight years ago during an energy crisis that prompted then-President Fidel Castro to launch the so-called Energy Revolution, seeking to lower consumption.

Castro went on state TV to promote more efficient rice steamers and pressure cookers, government workers fanned out across the island replacing incandescent light bulbs in homes and the country's creaky electrical grid also got an update.

Blackouts are much rarer today, thanks in part to a steady flow of oil on preferential terms from close ally Venezuela.

In 2011, Cuba resumed local sales of domestic appliances in response to demand and to support private small businesses launched under current President Raul Castro's economic reforms.

Authorities have continued to stress the importance of conservation to keep Cuba's power grid from being overtaxed.