NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A Mackinaw island ferry to get a makeover

Mackinac Island Ferry.jpg
Courtesy Star Line/Mackinac Island Ferry Company

A ferry to Mackinac island is getting a makeover – and one that could help the state of Michigan reach its climate goals.

Patrick Shea has more on the state-funded project to put a fully-electric ferry in the Straits of Mackinac.

The diesel-powered ship is part of Star Line’s fleet in St. Ignace … and state funds will be used to overhaul the vessel, and make it battery powered.

Jerry Fetty is the CEO of the Star Line ferry service to Mackinac Island. He says this ferry is a perfect candidate for electrification … because it needs some work done, anyways.

Fetty say, "If we’re going to upgrade it now, we might as well take it into the future, essentially, and apply for the grant. And we’re very proud to have received it and we will be the first passenger ferry – in Michigan anyway – to be 100 percent electric."

Funds from the state’s Fuel Transformation Program will also go towards an onshore electric system at a dock in Sault Ste Marie, where shipping vessels can use power onboard without running their diesel engines.

In a statement, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said these projects will help the state achieve its goal for carbon-neutrality by 2050.