A man wearing a ball cap leans over the side of a boat and shows a handful of muck
Sehvilla Mann

The company that operates Morrow Dam near Comstock faces a state investigation for letting large amounts of sediment wash into the Kalamazoo River, endangering fish habitats and possibly kicking up contaminants, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Two sandhill cranes stand roughly in profile, facing away from each other in a reedy wetland
Courtesy photo / Bill Maxey

Like many people, Bill Maxey has been seeing more wildlife during the shutdown.

“Long retired” from the Upjohn Company, Maxey lives near Comstock Creek east of Kalamazoo. He's been home more than usual since March.

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 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.