TVA to convert at least half of its fleet to electric vehicles by 2030

Staff photo by Angela Lewis Foster / TVA power utilization engineer Andrew Frye speaks at the celebration of Chattanooga's electric vehicle car share "First Plug-In" in 2016 at Hamilton Place Mall.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which helped bring electricity to southern Appalachia nearly a century ago, is now trying to help electrify the region's transportation system.

TVA outlined plans Wednesday to convert its entire fleet of passenger cars and at least half of its own pickup and light cargo trucks to electric vehicles by 2030. The shift from gas-powered to electric vehicles will comprise nearly 1,200 vehicles and is part of TVA's overall effort to encourage the electrification of transportation to help reduce carbon emissions in the Tennessee Valley.

The new electric cars and light-duty trucks will be bought to replace older gas vehicles as they reach the end of their life cycle. TVA will continue for the near term using gas-powered larger trucks such as its bucket trucks or service trucks until cost-effective EV models are developed for such vehicles.

"With light- and medium-duty vehicles, it's pretty clear that the technology is available, price is becoming competitive and the makers of these fleet vehicles are positioning themselves to be aggressive in the market so now is the time to make the shift," TVA President Jeff Lyash said Wednesday.

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Lyash said the transition to EVs will be done for TVA's passenger fleet over the next nine years to conform with the replacement time schedule for TVA's cars and pickups.

· TVA spokeswoman Malinda Hunter said TVA currently has EV models manufactured by Chevrolet, Nissan, Volkswagen and Hyundai, and has not yet placed large orders with any specific manufacturer. To support the expanded EV fleet, TVA estimates about 350 various level chargers will be required at TVA facilities across the Tennessee Valley.

The announcement Wednesday of TVA moving its fleet to EVs comes six months after TVA joined with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to build.a network of recharging stations at least every 50 miles on Tennessee's major highways to help ensure adequate charging capacity for the growing number of electric vehicles o the road.

The new charging stations will support the effort by Drive Electric Tennessee to have at least 200,000 light-duty electric vehicles in Tennessee by 2028. At the end of last year, there were only 11,034 light-duty EVs registered in Tennessee, but that number is projected to jump with new electric vehicles soon to be produced in the state by General Motors and Volkswagen along with Nissan's ongoing production of the all-electric Leaf.

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GM is spending $2 billion to begin making the Cadillac Lyriq, a small electric SUV, at the Spring Hill factory, while VW is investing $800 million to add a battery-powered small SUV to its lineup of cars made at its Chattanooga assembly plant. Nissan in Smyrna has been making electric vehicles for the past decade.

Combined, the Tennessee auto plants will soon make the Volunteer State the biggest state in the Southeast - and the No. 3 state in the nation - for EV production.

TVA, the nation's largest public power provider, projects that more electric vehicles on the road will spur jobs and economic investment in the region, reduce the region's largest source of carbon emissions and save drivers money.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340.