New Solar Garden Industry About to Bloom for Xcel Customers

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Star Tribune

Utility regulators planted the seeds Thursday to sprout community solar gardens across the service territory of Minnesota’s largest electric utility.

At least a dozen renewable energy companies are gearing up to develop solar gardens for Xcel Energy customers. Under rules that won preliminary approval from the state Public Utilities Commission, the companies soon can begin promoting clean energy under a business model that has been popular in Colorado and other states.

Solar gardens are large, centralized solar-electric arrays whose output is shared by people who invest in each project and receive a credit on their power bills. The concept can appeal to renters, people who own homes that are too shady or residents of condominiums that don’t allow solar panels.

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