In 2013, the state of Minnesota developed a program to promote “community solar gardens” in which utility customers purchase shares of local solar photovoltaic energy facilities. This was designed to address a problem many people in the state were facing: they would like to use renewable energy, but cannot install their own solar systems either because they rent the property where they live, or because they do not own a house or building on which a solar array can be effectively installed. The state has made the process as simple and transparent as possible. As a result of this policy, a large number of solar cooperatives have been formed. According to Xcel Energy’s October 2016 monthly update on community solar gardens to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, applications have been filed for 214 project sites since 2013, including 85 projects being designed and 33 projects in the construction phase of the Solar*Rewards Community process.
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