Country Listing

Paraguay Table of Contents




Figure 7. Transportation and Hydroelectric Facilities, 1988


Itaipú hydroelectric power plant
Courtesy United States Department of State

The electricity subsector underwent fabulous growth in the 1980s, making it the most important segment of the energy sector. Once almost entirely dependent on thermal and diesel generation of electricity, the country by the late 1980s had shifted almost entirely to hydroelectricity. Electricity, gas, and water together accounted for 2.8 percent of GDP in 1986. The shift to hydropower started in 1968 upon the completion of the nation's first major hydroelectric plant, the Acaray plant, which supplied almost all of the country's electricity in the 1970s and most of the 1980s. Although the Acaray plant was expanded in the mid- to late 1970s, its role in the economy was overshadowed by the construction of two of Latin America's largest public-sector projects, the Itaipú and Yacyretá hydroelectric plants. In addition to these plants, the government had finalized plans with Argentina for another plant-- Corpus--to be located between Itaipú and Yacyretá (see fig. 7). Other plants also were planned downstream of Yacyretá.

Despite the country's tremendous installed capacity and potential capacity for electricity, domestic demand and access to electricity lagged well behind supply and remained quite limited in the late 1980s. Not until the early 1960s did the government introduce the first serious energy policies to improve rural electrification. Electricity consumption increased 10 percent annually in the 1960s and upwards of 16 percent per year in the 1970s. General access to electricity improved from a low 11 percent in the 1970s to over 40 percent by the mid-1980s, but with considerable regional disparities. Approximately 62 percent of people living in the Central Department had electricity compared with only 37 percent of the eastern border region residents and fewer than 1 percent in the Chaco. Asunción accounted for nearly two-thirds of the nation's electricity consumption.

The electricity system was controlled by the National Power Company (Administración Nacional de Electricidad--ANDE), an autonomous, decentralized, public utility. Created in 1949, ANDE was reorganized in 1964 and made a financially independent entity attached to the Ministry of Public Works and Communications. Electricity was expensive for most Paraguayans, and power outages were common. Rapid growth in electrification added approximately 500 kilometers of electric lines per year to the grid in the 1980s, and reliability improved.

Data as of December 1988