Eintime Conversion for education and research 05-14-2006 @ 17:24:00
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Brazil Add North To Energy Plan*

Brazil Adds Northern Area To Energy-Rationing Plan

Dow Jones Newswires

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Three states in Brazil's northern region, where most of the Amazon forest is located, will also be included in the national power rationing plan, government officials said Wednesday.

Para, Maranhao and Tocantins states will have to cut energy consumption by 15% as of July 1, a lower target than the 20% power cut required of Brazil's southeast, central and northeast regions. Brazil imposed the rationing plan for those regions from June 1. It wasn't clear at that time whether northern states, which are not as industrialized and use less power, would join the power-saving efforts.

Pedro Parente, head of the government's energy committee -- a task force set up in May to fight the crisis -- said rationing in the north won't impose surcharges or scheduled blackouts on consumers who don't conform to the energy quotas allowed under the new power regime.

Under the current plan, consumers in the other affected areas will be charged hefty fines and ultimately have their power cut off for several days if they fail to comply with energy quotas.

Mr. Parente, dubbed the "Blackout Minister," said after a meeting with the governors of the three states that they will have until the end of July to achieve the quota. If they fail to comply, a new meeting will be called to discuss the next steps.

But rationing for consumers in northern Brazil might not last as long as in other regions, which are expected to be under the strict energy regime until at least December.

Mr. Parente said the duration of rationing in the north will depend on rainfall and the result of power-saving efforts in the rest of the country.

The official said Tuesday that ten days into the emergency rationing program, the more industrial southeast and central regions had managed to cut usage by 16%, while the northeast, an important tourism region, had cut power consumption by 18%.

The south of Brazil is expected to cut energy use by 7%.

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