MANKATO, Minn. - The School Sisters of Notre Dame cut the ribbon on a community solar garden in Mankato Thursday.

The five acre site holds 4800 panels.

"They could have done a number of things with that property, but they felt it was very important that it not be a housing development, that they do something that follows their mission," Bill Ward with the School Sisters of Notre Dame said.

"It's in line with what we believe about educating and advocating and working with all different kinds of people so that we can have a future," Sr. Mary Kay Gosch said.

The sister's community solar garden is just one of many solar panel sites popping up in fields and even on rooftops across the state.

Alan Wernke with IPS Solar said 105 solar gardens are in operation as the first quarter of this year.

Arrays like the sisters' have the potential to produce one megawatt of energy each year.

"Over the lifetime of this system, it would be like planting 9,000 trees to mitigate the carbon offset that you would produce from the normal grid," Wernke said.

Which means the School Sisters could see a negative utility bill the more energy the panels generate.

"We produce energy with a meter in one spot, and then the subscribers to the garden take the energy off in another spot with another meter," Wernke said. "So we're creating credits here because we're generating electricity, and then we're debiting those credits, if you will, over here."

The solar garden is now live and producing energy for the sisters.

--KEYC News 12