* Reservoirs restored, capacity added
* Minister says power supplies exceed demand
BRASILIA, April 8 Brazil's hydroelectric
reservoirs are back to adequate levels and power shortages are a
thing of the past with supplies comfortably exceeding national
demand, Brazilian Mining and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said
Brazil has added 2,116 MW in new generating capacity in the
first quarter of this year of the 8,500 MW expansion planned for
2013, Lobao said at a press conference called to counter press
reports that delays in building new generating capacity are
endangering supplies to the national grid.
"I can guarantee delays won't put Brazil's electricity
system at risk. We guarantee the supply of electricity in Brazil
for 2013, 2014 and forever," he said.
Lobao stressed there would be no power supply shortages that
could jeopardize the Confederations Cup soccer tournament to be
held in six Brazilian cities in June, nor the 32-nation FIFA
World Cup next year.
An aide to the minister said electricity supply exceeded
demand by more than 1,700 MW at present.
A hot summer and a drought in the northeast of Brazil
lowered water supplies in reservoirs with hydroelectric dams to
critical levels in January, raising the risk of power shortages
and blackouts and forcing Brazil to resort to the extended use
of more costly thermoelectric power plants.
The energy crunch did not stop President Dilma Rousseff from
pushing ahead with her plan to cut Brazil's high energy costs
with government-mandated reductions in electricity rates
introduced in February.
Lobao said Brazil will continue to use thermal power as
needed, striving to use the lower cost plants, which use
imported fuel and LNG. Nonetheless, he said that Brazil's power
matrix remained one of the world's cleanest and most renewable,
with its heavy reliance on hydroelectric power.
(Reporting by Leonardo Goy and Peter Murphy; Editing by Bob