No blackouts during World Cup

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 23 (IANS) The staging of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil will be free of power blackouts, Nelson Hubner, head of the country's national electricity agency (Aneel) has asserted.

Hubner, who is in charge of regulating the power distribution network in the country, said in a statement denying a story run by daily Folha de Sao Paulo in its Tuesday edition, reports Xinhua.

According to the daily, there is a real risk of power shortage in most of the Cup's host cities during the competition. Folha based its story in a report presented by Aneel itself, just last month.

The report warns that in all but two host cities, the renovations and expansions which are being made in the distribution network for the Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games are behind schedule. In Brazil's capital city Brasilia, which will also be a host city in the FIFA Confederations Cup in June, over 90 percent of the projects are behind schedule.

The renovation and expansion projects are being carried out by several companies which hold the concessions to explore the energy distribution in each state.

In the document, Aneel recommends that the projects must be hurried to get ready in time for the tournament and that alternative solutions should be presented to deal with worst case scenarios.

Hubner, however, said that Aneel is monitoring the projects and will work for their completion in time.

"Many of those projects are secondary. We are checking them out and alerting the companies so that we can get everything on schedule for the Cup," he said.

The possibility of blackouts or energy rationing in Brazil in the upcoming months has been much discussed in the local press over the past weeks. Most of the energy used in Brazil comes from hydroelectric power plants, which makes the country dependant on rain to fill up the dam reservoirs.

The reservoirs' water level is currently below average for the season, which was a cause of alarm especially because there were several blackouts in large cities in the last two months of 2012. In order to compensate the reservoirs' lower level, the government ordered that the thermal power plants, which work on natural gas, were turned on.

The Brazilian government denies the risk of blackout and power rationing, as it happened in the early 2000s. According to the authorities, the network has been expanded in the past decade and, unlike in the past, Brazil now has thermal power plants which can help compensate an eventual low output from the hydroelectric plants.

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