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Project expands solar power options for Minnesota residents

May 1, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Residents in 34 Minnesota counties have access to a new network of community solar farms.

Residents can sign up for CleanChoice Energy’s solar farm project starting Tuesday, Minnesota Public Radio reported .

The Xcel Energy grid is connected to six of the farms and will add two more in the coming months. The eight farms are expected to produce more than 42 megawatts of solar energy, which is enough to power almost 7,000 homes.

Minnesota had a total solar capacity of 715 megawatts at the end of last year. About 295 megawatts are community solar energy.

“Not only will this portfolio expand the overall available capacity of the community solar market by over 10 percent, but it allows for residential subscribers to access community solar,” said Laura Pagliarulo, a managing director for CleanChoice. “So we’re expanding the availability of residential subscriptions by over 50 percent, which is really exciting.”

Community solar projects are a way to give people access to solar power without requiring them to purchase and install panels on their own homes. CleanChoice officials hope the project will attract residents in particular, rather than just businesses, to solar energy.

The Department of Energy awarded the company $2.5 million to create an easy online experience to join community solar projects, said Kate Colarulli, vice president of CleanChoice.

“We’re really proud that this is like a 10-minute signup experience as opposed to something that would require multiple sit-down meetings, loans, etc.,” Colarulli said.

CleanChoice officials estimate the project will displace 20,000 tons of carbon pollution annually by moving away from energy sources that pollute the air.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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