New Rules and Proven Programs
Brazil and Mexico have chosen different approaches to deal with looming electricity shortages. The outcome of their plans will have far-reaching consequences.
There is nothing like the risk of power shortages and
blackouts to concentrate the minds of politicians. In Brazil,
years of underinvestment have forced the government of
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to unscramble the
very rules governing the country's power industry that many
blame for the decline in investment. Officials hope a new set
of regulations will attract a large chunk of the $7 billion in
annual investments needed to keep the lights on and the
factories across Brazil working.
Congress passed legislation in March that Lula's center-left
government hopes will deliver the best of both worlds (see box,
"In Need of Institutionalization"). It seeks to bring in
billions of dollars in private sector financing for new
hydroelectric dams and simultaneously reassert government
control over the market. The government says tighter official
oversight is vital to avoid a repeat of the power shortages
that aborted a...
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