Energias do Brasil, the fully owned Brazilian subsidiary of Portuguese utility Energias de Portugal, has established a partnership with Minas Gerais state utility Companhia Energética de Minas Gerais to develop wind projects in the south-eastern states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. Energias do Brasil says that a pre-feasibility study shows the two states hold a combined wind power potential of 500 MW. The company estimates that any projects will take 18-24 months to receive the necessary authorisation and environmental licenses from regulators. It is still too early to talk about the level of investment, says Miguel Setas, Energias do Brasil's vice-president of business development and renewable energy. Energias do Brasil, however, is likely to invest BRL 1 billion ($577 million) to develop the 500 MW of projects, according to local press accounts. Separately, Spanish Grupo Fortuny plans to initially invest $500 million to build three wind plants in Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande de Sul. The three projects are expected to have a combined capacity of 223 MW and would be located in the Jaguarão region and the municipalities of Piratini and Santana do Livramento, according to the government of Rio Grande do Sul. If all goes well, construction is expected to begin in 2010 and should be finished in 2011. Fortuny's renewable energy director, Fernando Tamayo, says that the rights to build the plant were acquired by Spanish company Gamesa in December. Rio Grande do Sul state is already home to Brazil's largest wind farm complex, the 150 MW collection of Enercon turbines at the Osório wind park.