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Mackinac Island ferry going electric with EGLE grant

(CBS DETROIT) - The Mackinac Island Ferry is going electric with the help of a $3.06 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

The grant will cover half of the costs necessary to make the upgrades. 

According to EGLE, Star Line, currently known as the Mackinac Island Ferry Company, will replace two 1988 diesel engines with new electric propulsion motors on the Chippewa ferry. 

This upgrade will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating 14,152 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents and 887 metric tons of nitrogen oxides that would have been produced over the boat's lifetime.

"Converting a ferry in the Mackinac fleet to electric will build on our clean-energy leadership and help us achieve the goals of the MI Healthy Climate Plan to make our state carbon-neutral by 2050," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "The budget I put forward includes several investments in this space, and today's ferry grant is another step forward as we build a brighter future for Michigan."

During the project, crews will install 1.5 megawatts in shore power infrastructure at the Mackinaw City ferry dock. In addition, electric power upgrades are planned for St. Ignace and Mackinac Island ports.

The Mackinac Island ferries serve approximately 500 year-round residents and 750,000 visitors annually. 

EGLE officials say the 84-foot ferry Chippewa was built in 1962. After it is redesigned and converted into an electric ferry, it is expected to carry 250-300 passengers.

This work is part of the Mackinac Island Transportation Master Plan, a larger project to transition away from fossil fuels. Officials say the long-term goal is for all 138 Upper Great Lake ships in the 50- to the 200-ton range to have electric or hybrid-electric power.

For more information on the Mackinac Island Transportation Master Plan, visit here

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