Sunday, August 1

Brazil power operator asks for maintenance delays amid drought

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s national power grid operator (ONS) has asked electricity generators to postpone maintenance and technical work for as long as possible to help avoid worsening the energy crisis stemming from the country’s worst drought in almost a century.

ONS Director General Luiz Carlos Ciocchi told Reuters on Saturday the situation was worrying but under control, and insisted there was no risk of energy rationing.

The ONS in recent days asked power generators to put off any maintenance or stoppages until at least the beginning of the rainy season around November, Ciocchi said.

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“This kind of request and negotiation (with power generators) is quite common. It is to be expected.”

Severe drought is disrupting hydroelectric dams, the main source of power generation in Brazil. Hydro dams have reported the lowest water inflows in more than 90 years amid the drought, pushing up prices and boosting broader inflation rates.

Ciocchi insisted that this was not a prelude to rationing.

“The drought situation remains worrying, but under control and in line with the preventive measures already taken,” he said.

To tackle the crisis, Brazil has increased thermal power generation and imported more energy from neighboring Argentina and Uruguay. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Richard Chang)

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