Volkswagen's diesel emissions cheating scandal is helping a ferry service for tourists in northern Michigan go electric.
The Mackinac Island Ferry Co. plans to use a $3 million grant from the state's Volkswagen settlement fund to replace two 1988 diesel engines on one of its boats with new electric motors. The conversion will eliminate 14,152 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents and 887 metric tons of nitrogen oxides over time, Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said in a news release.
The 84-foot Chippewa, built in 1962, will be the first zero-emission ferry serving Mackinac Island, where automobiles have been banned since the 1890s. During the summer, ferries make about 125 round trips daily in the straits between Michigan's two peninsulas.
State officials said they have a long-term goal of converting all 138 50- to 200-ton ships operating in the upper Great Lakes to electric or hybrid-electric power.
"Our mobility leadership must extend from electric cars and buses on the road to industrial power and watercraft, too," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. "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."