Minnesota is officially home to the Midwest's biggest solar energy plant

It'll generate enough energy to power 20,000 homes.
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Minnesota officially has the largest solar energy facility in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the U.S.

Xcel Energy and Swinerton Renewable made announcements on social media Wednesday afternoon.

The 1,000-acre North Star Solar Project, as it's called, is located just northeast of the Twin Cities in North Branch. And construction – which started earlier this year – has just wrapped up.

The Chisago County facility is made up of more than 440,000 solar panels and will generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes.

An earlier news release says those panels use tracking technology to follow the sun as it rises and sets, from east to west.

But it's not up and running quite yet. Xcel Energy's Facebook post says the plant will start pumping out energy in December.

According to LGCY Power, the largest solar energy facility in the U.S. is Solar Star in California. It generates enough electricity to power 255,000 homes.

Xcel Energy's renewable energy plan

This project is part of Xcel Energy's plan to provide more energy from renewable resources.

Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy Minnesota, said earlier this year that “this large scale solar project is part of our plan to double the amount of renewable energy we deliver to customers and achieve a 63 percent carbon free energy by 2030.”

In effort to reach that goal, the Minneapolis-based company has signed a 25-year agreement saying it will buy energy from the new solar facility.

Xcel has already been using solar power. At the end of last year, it had the capacity to power 53,000 homes for an entire year. It also has a Solar Rewards program available in Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexico that helps customers instal their own solar panels.

The company also harvests energy from wind and water. You can learn more about Xcel Energy's renewable resources here.

In the coming decades, Xcel may shut down some of its coal-fired units to cut carbon emissions.

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