Sehvilla Mann

Local Government/Education Reporter

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.

A close-up photo of a roof with solar panels on it.
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Michigan’s solar contractors say they’re about to hit a wall – or rather a cap, created by lawmakers a few years ago. It means that utilities have to accept some, but not much distributed energy, which is power that customers put into the grid.

Laura Sherman is the president of the trade group the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, whose members include solar companies. Sherman said when it’s reached – possibly yet this year in some areas – the cap will devastate solar installers.

The picture shows a man with a beard and dark-rimmed glasses in the foreground. In the background are a couple of doors and a big Western flag with the Bronco head on it
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Western Michigan University faces a large budget gap next year because of the Covid-19 shutdown, but it will not raise tuition or room and board rates this fall, Trustees decided at a virtual meeting today. Vice President for Business and Finance Jan Van Der Kley told the Board the university wants to ease the financial burden on students as they return to school.

The photo shows a turret of sorts on the corner of a brick house. The turret has a bell-shaped fish-scale shingled roof. Behind it, on the building, you can see a solar array.
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

This is part two in a three-part series on solar energy.

Rick Freiman of Portage can’t put solar panels on his roof because his homeowner association thinks they would look out of place. But he’s not the only person, in Michigan or the rest of the country, to have that problem. In Washington, D.C. a historic district made a similar call a few months ago. That got the attention of David Roberts, a self-described climate “hawk” who writes for the online news source Vox.

The picture shows a two-story house with attached garage. It's beige with white trim and a blue front door.
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Rick Freiman has a couple of reasons for wanting to put solar panels on his roof. They would save him money on his energy bill. But also, Freiman is a climate activist. He and his wife Deb want to shrink their carbon footprint.

A sign resting on someone's legs shows a drawing of a globe and the words "eco not ego."
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK


Shutdown or no shutdown, this is Earth Week, with the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day on Wednesday. Environmental groups in Kalamazoo are marking it with a slate of virtual events, from a “History of Earth Day” video series to a “Climate Crisis Town Hall,” sessions on green eating and gardening, and a virtual tour of a very energy-efficient house in Portage.

Two organizers told WMUK about their how their online events will work.