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

Reports say residents will be able to sign up for CleanChoice Energy's solar farm project starting Tuesday.

The Xcel Energy grid is connected to six of the farms and two more will be added 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.

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

Community solar projects are a way of giving people access to solar power without requiring them to purchase and install panels on their own homes.