The creation of Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras S.A. (Eletrobras) was proposed in 1954 by President Getúlio Vargas. The project faced great opposition and it was only approved after seven years of discussions and processing in the National Congress. In April 25, 1961, President Jânio Quadros signed Law 3,890-A, which authorized the Union to consititute Eletrobras. The company was officially installed on June 11, 1962, at a solemn session of the National Water and Electric Power Council (CNAEE), at the Laranjeiras Palace, in Rio de Janeiro, with the presence of President João Goulart.
Eletrobras was assigned with the promotion of studies, construction projects and operation of power plants, transmission lines and substations for the provision of electricity in Brazil. The new company has since then made decisive contributions to the expansion of the electricity supply and the development of the country.
The institutional reforms and privatizations that occurred in the 1990s resulted in the loss of some functions of the state-owned company and profile changes to Eletrobras. In this period, the company also began to operate, due to ordinances and in a temporary character, in the distribution of electricity through companies in the states of Alagoas, Piauí, Rondônia, Acre, Roraima and Amazonas.
In 2004, the new sector regulation excluded Eletrobras from the National Privatization Program (PND). At the present moment, Eletrobras controls subsidiaries that operate in the areas of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, a holding company (Eletrobras Eletropar), the Electrical Energy Research Center (Eletrobras Cepel, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) and it also holds half of Itaipu Binacional's capital, on behalf of the Brazilian government.