...maintain. Paraguayan officials reported a blackout of the entire country that lasted about 15 minutes and blamed Brazilian transmission lines for the disruption. Itaipu supplies about 90% of Paraguay’s electrical demand.
Furnas later refuted earlier accounts of the cause, claiming the National Interconnected System was not only operating normally during the blackout, but there had been no damage to the circuit or to any transmission towers. Officials with Furnas also said any diagnosis of the cause of the blackout was “purely speculative.”
The blackout occurred two days after a report on a U.S.-based television news show that alleged computer hackers had successfully disrupted Brazil’s transmission grid in 2005 and 2007. In response to that report, Furnas issued a statement blaming the outages on soot and dust deposits on the lines caused by burning fields. Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy denied hackers caused the blackout.
The outages come on the heels of two major sporting coups for Brazil: hosting the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament. In both cases, Brazilian campaigners touted government plans to invest heavily in infrastructure, including the power sector.
Currently, Brazil is planning to invest almost $2.2 billion in its transmission network through the end of 2017, split almost evenly between the construction of new lines and new substations. This year alone, ANEEL has conducted 12 auctions for the right to build more than 2,400 km of transmission lines and nine electricity substations.
According to Furnas, more than $468 million has been invested in the transmission infrastructure connecting the Itaipu facility to the Brazilian grid this year. But it remains to be seen whether the outlay will provide a transmission system robust enough to keep the lights on during the next storm event.