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Eletrobrás, the state-owned electric power holding company in Brazil. After World War II, Brazil's need for power expanded faster than the ability of its private power companies to produce it. By the 1960s, more than half the electricity consumed in Brazil was generated by Rio Light and São Paulo Light, two subsidiaries of Toronto-based Brazilian Traction, Light, and Power. In addition to this Canadian firm there were small local generating companies throughout the country. Each produced a different voltage of power, a legacy that continues to this day.

In 1962, Eletrobrás (Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras, S.A.) was set up to develop and enforce a national electric energy policy for Brazil. After 1964, the military gave Eletrobrás the authority to implement the objective of national electric energy self-sufficiency. The American Foreign Power Company, for instance, sold its Brazilian subsidiary to Eletrobrás. Rio Light and São Paulo Light agreed to turn over its operations to Eletrobrás in phases. By the early 1970s, Eletrobrás emerged as the unchallenged holding company of Brazil's electric generators and distributors, taking over small local state corporations and expanding their activities.

Eletrobrás built two of the world's largest hydroelectric power stations—Itaipú, on the Brazilian-Paraguayan border in the south, and Tucuruí, in the north. It also built the nuclear power stations Angra I and Angra II, in collaboration with Westinghouse and with KWU-Siemens of Germany. In 2000 Angra II officially began to deliver energy. Several years of drought led to an energy crisis in 2001, when Brazil had to deal with frequent blackouts, and this led some politicians to push for the completion of a third nuclear power plant.

See alsoElectrification; Energy.


Judith Tendler, Electric Power in Brazil: Entrepreneurship in the Public Sector (1968); A energia elétrica no Brasil: Da primeira lâmpada á Eletrobrás (1977).

Luiz Pinguelli Rosa, ed., Energia e crise (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Centro da Memória da Eletricidade no Brasil. Energia elétrica no Brasil: Breve histórico 1880–2001 (Electric energy in Brazil: A Succinct History 1880–2001). Rio de Janeiro: O Centro, 2001.

Sauer, Ildo Luis. A reconstrução do setor elétrico brasileiro. São Paulo: Paz e Terra., 2003.

                             Eul-Soo Pang