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Electric Energy in Brazil

Two features are remarkable about the Brazilian Electricity system: a strong presence of the State and a heavy dependence on hydroelectricity.

The system is divided into three sub-systems: generation, transmission and distribution of energy.
The transmission system is entirely owned and operated by the State.
The Federal government still operates much of the generating system; the federal system includes several dams, concentrated on a few clusters:
Itaipu (half of Itaipu is Brazilian, half is Paraguayan; Brazil buys almost all of the Paraguayan share of energy), Eletrosul, Eletronorte, Furnas, Chesf and others. During the government of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the few State governments which owned hydroelectric mills were encouraged to privatize them.
The distribution system is composed by 27 companies (one for each Brazilian State), most of which privatized during the government Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

In 2001, as consequence of the longest drought period in decades, Brazilians had to face rationing in electricity consumption. Read this
article in the NYTimes about the energy crisis in Brazil.

The system is coordinated by
ONS - Operador Nacional do Sistema (National System Operator). The ONS operates by delegation of the agents (companies working with generation, transmission and distribution), following rules, methods and criterium determined by them and homologated by the regulatory agency.
Click for a list of the
associated members of ONS.

The regulatory agency for the electric sector is
Aneel - Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica.

At the end of 2002, the capacity of the Brazilian system was 72,843 MW, so distributed by source: hydroelectricity: 63,834 MW (including 6,300 MW, equivalent to 50% of Itaipu capacity); thermal mills: 7,002 MW; nuclear plants: 2,007 MW.
Besides, Brazil imports 1,783 MW from neighbour countries.

Also at the end of 2002, the transmission system had 72,000 km of high voltage lines (above 230 kv).

Brazil has only two working nuclear plants, Angra I and Angra II. The nuclear program was started in the 1970s, during the military government; the program was based on German technology. The plants started generating energy only after a long delay, and never with the planned capacity and reliability. For more information about the Brazilian nuclear program, visit

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