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HES & TVA Present Financial Incentives to U.S. Smokeless Tobacco for Energy Efficient Electric Forklifts

LtoR: TVA Bryant Beames, HES General Manager Jeff Hurd, USSTC Plant Director Greg Baker, HES Dustin Love and Lynn Clark

TVA’s EnergyRight Solutions for Business and Industry (ERSB+I) helps industrial customers find ways to reduce energy waste and operational costs, and boost their bottom line. Consider the case of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC) in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Industrial operations like USSTC, a leading producer and marketer of moist smokeless tobacco and a tremendous agriculture partner for more than 37 years in southwestern Kentucky, rely heavily on lift trucks for material handling. Internal combustion forklifts can be noisy and require significant maintenance, which is why Hopkinsville Electric System (HES) partnered with TVA on a $2,000 incentive grant to help USSTC replace four internal combustion forklifts with electric-powered units.

“We are proud to work with our commercial customers to find ways to reduce their energy usage and offer incentives that help them operate more efficiently,” said HES General Manager Jeff Hurd. “Lift trucks are one of the most widely used material handling vehicles, so we were glad to offer U.S. Smokeless the TVA EnergyRight Solutions Electric Forklift Program.”

While the initial cost of an electric forklift can be greater than a diesel- or propane-powered forklift, the savings in fuel and maintenance can provide a quick return on the investment, according to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The cost to purchase, maintain and charge an electric forklift over five years is about $58,000, versus about $80,000 for a propane-powered combustion engine lift truck during that same time, yielding a savings of about $22,000.

“We are thankful for TVA’s efforts to incentivize ways that can help us reduce our operational costs and provide a cleaner environment for our employees to serve our customers,” said USSTC Hopkinsville Plant Director Greg Baker.

​U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Manufacturing Company and its predecessors have had a presence in Kentucky for more than 70 years. The 41-acre Hopkinsville tobacco receiving and processing complex employs approximately 90 full-time and 250 seasonal employees, and has another Hopkinsville facility used to process aged tobacco, including shredding, drying and flavoring.