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Maker’s Mark, KU announce plans for joint solar power array at noted distillery

NC GAZETTE / WBRT RADIO
STAFF REPORT

Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 — Kentucky Utilities Company and Maker’s Mark have announcing a new partnership through the utility’s Business Solar Program to construct a new solar array at the bourbon distillery’s property in Loretto along Highway 52.

Without compromising any part of the unique Maker’s Mark production process that makes its bourbon so distinctive, the new ground-mounted solar panel system will offset the energy needs required to maintain rickhouses where bourbon is stored for aging. This includes energy for security, lighting, barrel elevators and office spaces.

“My grandparents’ vision when they created Maker’s Mark was not only that it might elevate the bourbon category, but also that we would constantly look for meaningful ways to give back to the community,” said Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark chief distillery officer and eighth-generation distiller.

“This partnership with KU to offset our energy use in the rickhouses fits that vision perfectly, matching up with our ever-increasing sensitivity about our place in the environment and the responsible use of natural resources.”

The new solar array will be made up of about 560 photo-voltaic panels and is expected to produce about 268,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Based on the current project timeline, construction will begin in early fall, with the solar array operational before the end of 2019.

“We’re proud that, together with our customers, we’re gaining momentum and further deepening our solar energy roots here in Kentucky,” said Beth McFarland, LG&E and KU vice president of customer services.

KU and sister utility Louisville Gas and Electric Company first launched the Business Solar Program in 2016 for customers like Maker’s Mark who are taking the lead to adopt more renewable energy within their portfolio and propelling new solar energy growth for Kentucky by keeping it local.

The program, part of the utilities’ Green Tariff, empowers commercial and industrial customers to accomplish solar energy goals, without being burdened by the logistics of managing a system.

This 25-year partnership is a first of its kind for KU and allows the utility to build, own and maintain the solar array on behalf of Maker’s Mark; in turn, the company pays a monthly fee and earns bill credits for the energy produced by the system. Each customized project is subject to approval by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which was gained for this project this August.

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