MINNESOTA took the first step in early August toward assigning a value to solar electricity.

The local electric utility, Xcel, is proposing to build community solar facilities — photovoltaic arrays in which customers who cannot put solar on their roofs or prefer not to do so can still own solar panels in a community array and receive credit against their utility bills for the electricity fed into the grid. Customers would buy allotments in 200-watt increments. They would continue buying all their electricity from the grid and receive credit for now at the retail electricity rate for the power fed into the grid, but once the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decides on the value of the solar electricity, that price will supersede the retail rate.

The commission is collecting comments through October 1 on what value to assign.