January 15, 2013 / 4:16 PM / 5 years ago

Brazil reservoir levels rise, risk of energy crisis eases

* Northeast reservoirs at 29.62 percent capacity
    * Thermoelectric plants to be kept online for now

    SAO PAULO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Reservoirs that fuel
hydroelectric plants in Brazil's drought-stricken Northeast
recovered slightly after recent rains, data from the national
grid operator showed on Tuesday, easing fears of an energy
crisis in Latin America's largest economy.
    Water levels started rising last week in other regions, but
in the Northeast, which is suffering its worst drought in
decades, they first posted gains on Monday. They were up to
29.62 percent capacity from 29.33 percent. 
    Concerns about an energy crisis mounted during a hot, dry
summer in Brazil, pushing up the spot market prices for
short-term electricity and raising the possibility of widespread
energy rationing for the first time since 2001. 
    Despite recent rainfall and falling short-term energy costs,
reservoirs nationwide are still near their lowest levels in a
decade.
    Thermoelectric plants that were activated to avert a crisis
will therefore remain turned on for now, the president of the
federal energy research institute, EPE, Mauricio Tolmasquim told
journalists on Tuesday.
    But concerns eased as reservoirs in Brazil's densely
populated southeast industrial hub rose to 30.43 percent
capacity.
    Energy generated by thermoelectric plants in Brazil was at
11,883 megawatts, according to the grid operator, the ONS. That
is a slightly lower burden than had been expected. 
    Brazil relies on hydropower to generate around 67 percent of
its electricity, though it has diversified its energy matrix in
recent years.

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