* Blackout is latest in recent string of power shortages
* Affected mostly northeastern states
* Brazil investing heavily to increase energy capacity
SAO PAULO, Oct 26 A blackout affected as many as
12 Brazilian states late Thursday night and early Friday
according to local media reports, the latest in a string of
power shortages that have raised questions about whether
Brazil's infrastructure is keeping pace with economic growth.
The power shortage follows two other blackouts in the past
two months that affected millions of customers in the northeast,
the capital Brasilia, and parts of five states in the country's
south and center-west.
"We are taking all the corrective and preventative
measures...to minimize this type of occurrence, which is
dramatic for all of us and principally for consumers," Hermes
Chipp, head of Brazil's National Electric System Operator told
the Globo television network on Friday. Chipp added that
Thursday's blackouts were the result of an equipment fire.
Brazil went through a so-called "blackout crisis" in 2001
and 2002 as a drought limited the output of hydroelectric dams.
In response, the government forced electricity cuts in certain
regions for hours at a time, severely damaging economic growth.
While Brazil has invested heavily in electricity generation
since then, it still has a long way to go, with the country
planning to build as many as 48 new hydroelectric plants by 2020
to keep up with the energy demands of rapid economic growth.
Representatives from Brazil's National Electric System
Operator did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Sergio Spagnuolo;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)