Furnas Plant

Credit: AC Júnior

The Furnas Hydroelectric Power Plant was the first plant built by the Company, hence its name. The dam is located in the middle of the Grande river, along a stretch called "Corredeiras das Furnas", between the cities of São José da Barra and São João Batista do Glória, in Minas Gerais.

Construction began in July 1958, with the first unit going into operation in September 1963 and the sixth in July 1965. In the early 70s, the company began work on an expansion project to build the seventh and eighth units, increasing total output to 1,216 MW and making the plant one of the largest in Latin America. The plant’s privileged position (500 km from Rio de Janeiro, 400 km from São Paulo and 300 km from Belo Horizonte) meant it helped avoid a major energy collapse in the mid-60s, avoiding rationing and power outages that would have affected Brazilian industries. When construction began, its forecast output corresponded to 1/3 of the total installed capacity in Brazil. Besides being a milestone in Brazil's large hydroelectric plants projects, the Furnas Plant has normalized the flow of the Grande river, which has allowed for construction of eight more plants, taking full advantage of over 6,000 MW in installed power.

There are also important service areas around the plant:

Hydrobiology and Fish Farming Station
Produces fish for the planned reservoir repopulations and conserves the quality of dammed waters serving all the plants in the FURNAS System.

Testing and Measurement Technical Center
Provides technical support for maintenance and operation of the FURNAS electricity system. This Center is nationally recognized for its specialization in instrumentation, measurement and electrical, electromechanical and physical-chemical testing. It is certified by Inmetro and a part of the Brazilian Calibration Network (RBC).

FURNAS Training Center
Is responsible for training and improving skilled staff in areas such as electronics and the operation and control of electrical power systems. It also provides consultancy and additional services to companies in the Brazilian and international electricity industry.

Emergency Control Training Center
This modern, 30 thousand m² center is based at the Furnas Plant on the banks of the Grande River. It provides fire and panic drills and is qualified to support government agencies such as the Fire Department, Forest Battalions and electricity industry companies. It provides the following training courses:

  • Theoretical and practical training on use of special clothing/equipment and autonomous air masks (16 hours)
  • Fire fighting basics and how to use fire extinguishers (8 hours)
  • Fire Brigade training (40 hours).

Technical Data


  • Type: riprap with clay core
  • Maximum height: 127 m
  • Development at the crown: 554 m
  • Width at crown: 15 m
  • Elevation at crown: 772 m
  • Total volume: 9,450,000 m³


  • Maximum length: 220 km
  • Normal operating level: 768 m
  • Maximum flood level: 769.30 m
  • Level of expropriation: 769 m
  • Minimum operating level: 750 m
  • Flooded area: 1,440 km²
  • Total volume: 22.95 billion m³
  • Usable volume: 17.217 billion m³

Water Intake

  • Sliding gates
  • Quantity: 8
  • Water height on sill: 33.5 m
  • Width: 4.7 m
  • Height: 9.7 m
  • Manufacturers: Rheinstahl/M.A.N. (Germany)


  • Maximum Discharge: 13 thousand m³/s
  • Segmented gates
  • Quantity: 7
  • Width: 11.5 m
  • Height: 15.8 m
  • Radius: 14.1 m
  • Manufacturer: HIH (Japan)


  • Type: sheltered
  • Size: 186 m x 28 m

Generator units

  • Quantity: 8
  • Rotation: 150 RPM
  • Rated capacity: 152 MW


  • Type: Francis vertical axis
  • Rotor diameter: 4.485 m
  • Manufacturers: 1 to 6 (Nohab/Sweden) / 7 to 8 (Nohab/Sweden and Bardella/Brazil)


  • Frequency: 60 Hz
  • Terminal voltage: 15 Kv
  • Manufacturers: 1 to 6 (Siemens/Germany) / 7 to 8 (CGE/Canada e MEP/Brazil)


  • Quantity: 26 (operation + back-up)
  • Type: single-phase
  • Total operating capacity: 1,279.92 MVA
  • Transformation ratio: 15/345 kV
  • Manufacturers: GE (USA) / Jeumont Schneider (France)