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A growing number of people in Ulster County, New York, are switching to solar. Local leaders plan for the entire county to use only clean electricity by 2040.

“Local governments, local communities have to step up and really drive climate action from the ground level,” says county executive Patrick Ryan.

He says to encourage residents to do their part, the county has launched a new program called Solarize Ulster.

It allows people to switch to clean electricity while lowering their utility bills. Participants subscribe to a community solar program.

“And not only do you get the sort of moral victory of knowing you’re helping to keep our planet alive and healthy and address climate change. But by participating, every single resident actually saves 10% guaranteed on their monthly electric bills,” Ryan says.

For each new customer who signs up, the solar provider donates $100 to a fund that supports other green projects locally.

Ryan says the community’s response to the county’s climate initiatives has been positive.

“I think if it can work here, it can work anywhere,” he says. “And that’s what’s ultimately so exciting to me and makes me optimistic about where we could take this in the future.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media