Brazil to launch energy rationing trial period amid drought, Congress leader says

BRASILIA, June 22 (Reuters) - Brazil will institute energy rationing over a trial period to avoid power outages as a drought threatens to disrupt hydroelectric power plants, the leader of Brazil’s lower house of Congress said on Tuesday.

“We will have to have an educational period of some rationing in order to avoid any type of larger crisis,” lower house Speaker Arthur Lira told reporters.

The Mines and Energy Ministry on Monday denied that any steps were being taken to ration electricity in the country, repeating previous denials. The Ministry did not immediately respond to request for comment on Tuesday

Lira said he had spoken to Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque last week about possible rationing. The Congressional leaders said the conversation occurred in passing, without specifics or draft measures being discussed.

Brazil’s hydroelectric dams are facing their lowest water levels in 91 years due to below average rain, according to the Mines and Energy Ministry.

State-run oil company Petrobras is studying a further increase in natural gas supplies to allow for more thermoelectric power generation to offset the drop in hydroelectric energy, amid broader discussions with electricity regulator Aneel on how to relieve the situation. (Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; writing by Jake Spring; editing by Richard Pullin)