Mackinac Island ferries to go electric, cut gas emissions

(Keith Dunlap/GMG)

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – The wave of public electric transportation in Michigan has made its way up north to Mackinac Island.

The Mackinac Island Ferry Company is going electric. Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) have awarded a $3 million grant to support the conversion of passenger ferries for Mackinac Island.

The ferry company, previously known as Star Line, will be replacing two 1988 diesel engines with new electric propulsion motors on the ferry, Chippewa. The Chippewa is an 84-foot ferry that was built in 1962. The ferry is expected to carry up to 300 passengers after the electric conversion. This ferry is part of a pilot project for the state as they are in the process of making 28 Mackinac Island ferries electric.

Read: 25K Redhead ducks gather in Mackinac Straits before migration to Gulf of Mexico

EGLE made the announcement on Friday, stating that the newly electric ferry will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14,152 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents and 887 metric tons of nitrogen oxides over the boat’s lifetime.

The grant is set to cover half the cost of the electric project. The project includes a shore power infrastructure at the Mackinaw City ferry dock and electric power upgrades for ports at St. Ignance and Mackinac Island.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Ferries transport about 750,000 visitors to the Michigan island annually.

This project is set to begin immediately as it is part of a two-to-three-year overhaul.

Related: Electric boats making waves in Metro Detroit water industry