TVA Offers Incentives for Diesel Lift Truck Fleet Conversion

If you’ve been thinking about converting your lift truck fleet from diesel to electric, there’s never been a better time. Few projects offer a better long-term return on investment, and forklift fleet conversion is a relatively simple process. The Tennessee Valley Authority recently announced a program incentivizing diesel-to-electric lift truck conversion, providing hundreds of businesses in the region with an excellent new resource.

This isn’t the only program of its kind in the United States, but it’s easily one of the most substantial, and many businesses will use the incentive to justify a full-scale fleet conversion. Electric forklifts are smaller, quieter, more environmentally friendly, and generally more maneuverable than their gas-powered counterparts. They’re also easier on operators, and ergonomic designs can mean better overall productivity and less repetitive stress.

While there are plenty of non-monetary reasons to make the switch (especially for operations that primarily operate their lift trucks indoors), most sites will convert their fleets for financial reasons. Savings vary from one operation to the next, but the Electric Power Research Institute offers a simple calculator for quick estimates. Lower bills for maintenance, repairs, and energy can mean tens of thousands in savings over several years.

Here’s what you need to know about the TVA’s cash incentives:

  • Businesses can receive $2,000 per converted forklift. The new forklifts must replace combustion Class 4 and 5 forklifts with electric forklifts from Class 1 or Class 2.
  • Any combustion forklifts replaced through the program cannot be used at the participating site. The new electric forklifts must remain in operation for at least 5 years.
  • To qualify, businesses must submit their incentive applications, purchase the new forklifts, complete some additional paperwork and submit to an on-site inspection. The TVA estimates that the entire process will take several months for typical fleets.
  • Funds are available on a first come, first serve basis. It’s a substantial incentive, so if your business qualifies, you should submit an application as soon as possible to secure your position.
  • The TVA supplies electricity to seven states — Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Virginia — and the EnergyRight forklift program applies to all directly served industrial customers (often referred to as DSI customers), as well as customers of TVA local power companies (LPCs) and LPC end-use customers.

Additional application information is available on the program’s website.

If you don’t live in an area served by the Tennessee Valley Authority, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Many electric companies offer rebates and other incentives for fleet conversion. This is partially due to 42 U.S. Code § 17011, which promotes conversion to electric transportation technologies. Contact your electric provider to see if incentives are available; if you have a larger fleet, you may need to ask about custom incentive programs.

In addition to rebates from electric companies, many state and federal laws provide incentives for forklift fleet conversion. The United States Department of Energy provides an alternative fuels data center (available through this link) to help fleet purchasers find information.


“Search Federal and State Laws and Incentives.” Alternative Fuels Data Center. U.S. Department of Energy, 4 Jun. 2014. Web. 9 June 2015.

“Electric Forklift Program” Energy Efficiency Help for Business. Tennessee Valley Authority, n.d. Web. 09 June 2015.

“Lift Truck Comparison With Capital Costs.” EPRI | Electric Transportation About Key Contacts. Electric Power Research Institute, n.d. Web. 09 June 2015.

“42 U.S. Code § 17011.” U.S. Government Publishing Office, n.d. Web. 9 June 2015.