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Diageo works with co-ops for sustainability

When Diageo’s $130 million distillery now under construction in Marion County becomes fully operational next year, the Lebanon facility will mark the latest successful partnership of the global beverage leader with electric cooperatives in Kentucky. 

Since 2014, Diageo has invested more than $500 million in Kentucky. The 72,000-square-foot Diageo Lebanon Distillery and dry house, along with 12 barrel warehouses on 144 acres, will supplement the company’s other Kentucky operations: Stitzel-Weller in Louisville, and the Bulleit Distilling Company and Visitor Experience in Shelbyville. 

“We are so proud to count Diageo and the Bulleit brand as our members and our friends,” says Jack Bragg, Shelby Energy president and CEO. “There’s a lot of Shelby County in every bottle and barrel, from the water to the local ingredients from local farmers.” 

Diageo’s 300-acre campus in Shelbyville not only includes a distillery and barrel houses, it is also a high-tech and innovative tourism magnet, showcasing bourbon history and Bulleit’s commitment to sustainability. 

It was that commitment that led Diageo to Lebanon. Diageo will license solar panels from Cooperative Solar Farm One, operated by East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), which is owned by Inter-County Energy and 15 other Kentucky electric cooperatives. EKPC also will enter into power purchase agreements for additional renewable energy to supply to the distillery. 

“Inter-County Energy is proud to provide electric service to the Lebanon distillery,” says Jerry Carter, president and CEO of the Danville-based cooperative. “We are dedicated to understanding its energy needs and helping develop innovative ways to meet the sustainability goals of one of the largest renewable energy consumers in Kentucky.” 

Among the innovations at the Diageo Lebanon Distillery are electrode boilers, which will enable the avoidance of carbon emissions and reduce both noise pollution and air contaminants. All vehicles operated on-site, including trucks and forklifts, will be electric, and charged on-site by renewable energy. 

“This groundbreaking undertaking to electrify our operations and then power them with renewable electricity will result in one of the largest carbon neutral distilleries in North America,” says Perry Jones, president, North America Supply for Diageo. 

Once operational, the site is designed to minimize use of materials and waste through reuse and recycling, and any residual waste will not be sent to landfill.

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