COLLEGEVILLE (AP) — Large solar farms were relatively rare in Minnesota when the first solar panels were erected in a field near St. John's University in 2009, but much has changed in seven years.

The solar farm already expanded once in 2014. Now it has added a third phase called the Orion Community Solar Garden, which is six times larger than each of the first two phases.

The new panels started producing electricity this month despite snowy weather. The 3 megawatts covers 23 acres of land owned by St. John's Abbey and will generate enough electricity to power over 500 homes.

The solar farm will provide about 19 percent of the university's electricity. It could produce as much as 90 percent of the campus' power on peak sunny days.