A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Sun-powered rickhouses reflect partnership between Kentucky Utilities Company and Maker’s Mark


A new 560-panel solar array is now online in Loretto, marking a milestone in the partnership between Kentucky Utilities Company and Maker’s Mark to produce electricity using the sun. The new array stands just east of the distillery’s rickhouses on its 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.

“Much like its signature bottle, hand-dipped in wax, Maker’s Mark is sealing its position as an industry leader and making a resounding commitment to sustainability. Travelers from all over the world visiting the iconic distillery will see homegrown electricity in action,” said Paul W. Thompson, Chairman, CEO and President of LG&E and KU. “Together with our customers, we’re growing Kentucky’s renewable energy legacy and deepening our solar energy roots here in the Bluegrass.”

The new solar array stands just east of the distillery’s rickhouses on its property in Loretto along Highway 52.

Constructed by KU’s partner Solar Alliance, the new solar array first began producing power for Maker’s Mark in early February and is expected to produce about 268,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

“Being a thoughtful steward of our community and our environment has been a pillar of Maker’s Mark since my grandparents first started making our bourbon in Kentucky more than 60 years ago,” said Maker’s Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels, an eighth-generation distiller. “The ability of this solar array to offset our energy use is a tangible example of our ever-increasing focus on environmental stewardship, and we’re thrilled to see this meaningful effort come to life with our partners at KU.”

“This solar array is part of a trend that I think you will see a great deal more of this coming year as more and more businesses and utility companies seek to include renewable energy as part of their energy portfolios,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman. “We are fortunate in Kentucky to be able to provide customers with the type of energy generation that best meets their needs.”

Paving the way

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 leading the way in sustainability by adopting more renewable energy and partnering with the utilities to construct new solar arrays at their sites.

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 ideal 25-year partnership is a first of its kind for KU allowing 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 in 2019.

Maker’s Mark is among customers taking advantage of the utilities’ growing renewables portfolio and customer offerings. Others include: Dow and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., who partnered this year with the utilities on a new 100-megawatt solar array contract currently before the Kentucky Public Service Commission for approval; Ford Motor Company, the first founding member of the utilities’ Solar Share Facility in Shelby County; Kentucky Habitat for Humanity who will be gifting – or transferring – its bill credits earned as a Solar Share Program participant to 10 habitat families across the state; the Archdiocese of Louisville, LG&E’s first Business Solar partner and first diocesan-based array in the greater Kentucky region; and Yum! Brands, the first to host EV charging stations offered by the utilities at its Louisville campus for employees.

Visit lge-ku.com/solar to learn more about all of these customer programs and what the utilities are doing to help grow renewable energy in Kentucky.

From LG&E and KU


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