THE BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT has announced that its power rationing plan is working successfully and is likely to allow an easing of restrictions in 2002.

In response to a drought that depleted the country’s hydro power reserves, the government ordered residential and corporate consumers in June 2001 to cut consumption by 15-25 %. According to a government official, consumption had fallen by 23.5% in the northeast and 25.3% in the remaining affected areas.

At the end of August 2001, water levels at hydro reservoirs, which account for 93% of the country’s energy supply, were also said to be 2.72% above expected levels. This means that even in a worst-case scenario, assuming rainfall of 61% of its usual level, rationing in 2002 would not exceed 5% of consumption, said the government.

• Brazil and Venezuela have inaugurated a 680km long high voltage power line connection between the two countries. The US$400M intertie will supply cheap hydroelectricity from Venezuela to energy-starved northern Brazil.