Small Changes, Big Impact: Holiday Edition!

It’s no secret that the holidays can be a time for excess, but they don’t have to be! In fact, with a little effort, you can make your gift giving and decorating not only purposeful, but also waste-free. Check out these simple tips to celebrate the holiday season more sustainably:
💚Traditional wrapping paper cannot be recycled in Central Kentucky, so don’t use it! Grab some brown shipping paper which IS recyclable and channel your artistic side or have your little ones help you decorate it.
💚Give gifts that do not use batteries, or if they do, include rechargeable batteries with the present. Regular alkaline batteries are hard to recycle, but, once they no longer work, rechargeables can be recycled many places.
💚Gift services instead of things. Cooking classes, pedicures, or an hour of house cleaning, are all ways to avoid another item in a landfill and provide local jobs.
💚Make or buy gifts made out of recycled material. There are so many ways to get creative and make something that is both thoughtful and eco friendly.
💚Support local farmers and small businesses by shopping local for your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner groceries.

All Things Energy: Students Investigate the Science of Energy Through Interactive Lessons

Cookie mining is a fun and interactiveway for students to learn about the environmental impacts of mining. Through this activity, students can gain a deeper understanding of how mining can harm the environment and explore ways to minimize those impacts.
Solar Ovens: Students channel the sun’s energy to heat up solar ovens and make a snack!
Wind Turbines: Students investigate kinetic and potential energy, wind as a renewable resource, and the parts of wind turbines. Students design blades for wind turbines and test them for energy output produced.
Sunlight and Shadows: Preschool and primary students observe the effects of sunlight by comparing and measuring shadows and making bracelets that change color in the sun’s light.


Renewable energy is available even if you don’t have your own renewable energy source like solar panels. Fifteen of Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives offer their owner-members the opportunity to support solar, wind, biomass, and hydro electric energy sources by simply participating in the envirowatts program.

The envirowatts program allows owner-members to buy renewable energy in $2.75 portions with no maximum. The program also allows you to choose which energy source you want to support, or you can buy portions of each. It’s up to you.

By using envirowatts, you can offset your carbon footprint by thousands of pounds each month. For example, just one $2.75 portion of wind-created energy purchased through envirowatts offsets nearly 5,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of removing emissions from 253 gallons of gasoline or the greenhouse gas emissions from 5,595 miles per year driven by an average passenger vehicle.

Signing up for envirowatts is simple. Just go to and sign up. While you’re there, you can learn more about what Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are doing to offer owner-members sustainable, affordable energy, and what options they have for going green. You can learn more about renewable energy resources, where the power comes from and how it’s made.

By using the envirowatts program, you can offset your carbon footprint affordably each month. It’s quick and simple way to give back to the environment.

*Sponsored by Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives


Cooperative Solar Farm One*

Homeowners and business owners who have sustainability goals to lower their carbon footprint or want to save money on their monthly energy bills have been Investing in solar energy for years. Solar is a clean, affordable way to produce energy using only the power of the sun.

Putting a solar array on a home or business can be challenging or impossible for many. For renters, or those whose homes aren’t suitable for solar panels, it’s not an option. The maintenance of the solar panels and associated equipment may also discourage someone from going solar.

But Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives has another option for its members. A sixty-acre solar array, Cooperative Solar Farm One, located just east of Lexington, provides the opportunity for any member who wants to offset their carbon footprint and lower their energy bill to invest in solar energy without having to put panels on their home or business.

Guy Huelat knew Cooperative Solar One was a good investment when he looked into using solar to offset his energy bill. He and his wife Debbi licensed 77 panels.

“The idea of someone else maintaining it was very attractive to us,” said Huelat. “This is much more efficient than everyone trying to figure this out on their own.”

The Huelats were concerned that the solar panels wouldn’t match the aesthetic of their home and property. Cooperative Solar Farm One was an attractive option because it made getting access to solar energy easy, without the hassle of putting the panels on their home.

“We have good friends in Florida, and about every seventh house has solar panels on the roof,” he said. “The reason is that it’s not offered by their electric company. The consumer is going to do this. This is proof that co-ops can be more competitive than other power companies.”

Huelat estimates that the panels will pay for themselves within 15 years, and said one of his concerns when he considered solar was the cost of fossil fuel energy will eventually go up.

Cooperative Solar Farm One has about 32,000 panels which make enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes.

For a one-time payment of $460 per panel, participating members will receive a 25-year license to one of the panels. That means they will get credit on their monthly power bill for their proportional share of the energy generated by the solar farm, as well as the market value of their panel’s capacity. And they can monitor panel performance online.

*Sponsored by Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives


Who Powers You (and your community)?*

Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ Who Powers You contest is back for 2023, and now is the time to think about who powers your community. You can nominate someone who plays a vital role in your community by going to

If you know of someone who’s making a positive impact on the environment in their community, nominate them for Who Powers You. If someone you know is modeling positive environmental behavior such as organizing cleanups, planting trees or working to make their community a nicer, more beautiful place to live, they could be rewarded for their efforts.

Nominees are eligible to win cash prizes – $1,000 for the winner, $750 second and $250 for third place.

The #WhoPowersYou contest in which we invite the public to submit photos and stories about co-op members who are making a positive impact in their co-op community.

The 2022 winner and Owen Electric member David Lilly was nominated for his extensive volunteerism to help those who are less fortunate in his community. Lilly is the board chair for Meeting the Needs Ministry, a non-profit in Owen County that serves disadvantaged youth and seniors. “David Lilly might just be the busiest guy there is,” said Whitney Duvall, who nominated Lilly for the award. A retiree, Lilly volunteers his time and energy to collect food, hygiene products and commodities for people and families in need in the Owenton area, a place where the need is great. “The ultimate goal of the program is to make sure nobody goes hungry,” Lilly said.

The contest was created to reward and support co-op members who are making a difference in the communities served by Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Co-ops serve more than 1.1 million people in 89 counties.

To make a nomination, go to You’ll simply share a photo of the nominee and a brief description of how he or she makes a difference in the community.

Nominees must also be at least 18 years old, a member of Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives (see website for complete list of co-ops) and a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.

The contest begins Oct. 1, 2023 and ends Oct. 31. Winners will be selected by a panel of out-of-state judges.

*Sponsored by Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives


Energy Efficiency Programs

Whether it’s keeping more of the hot or cold air out, or keeping more of the comfortable temps in, one of the easiest ways to save money on your electric bill each month is by using less energy. And Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have energy efficiency programs that can help.

Major upgrades to your home aren’t necessary to improve your energy use, lower your energy bills and help the environment along the way. Small, often inexpensive energy-saving upgrades can lower your monthly energy usage.

There are also rebates available for doing a few money-saving “button ups” to your home, including sealing air leaks from your home and sealing your ductwork, if you meet certain criteria. It’s an inexpensive way to participate in an energy-saving program, while saving money on your energy bill.

Another program which offers a significant rebate is the heat pump retrofit. By installing an ENERGY STAR-rated 15 SEER 8.5 HSPF heat pump, and replacing older, inefficient heating sources, you could receive up to a $750 rebate. There are smaller rebates for heat pumps that meet minimum standards as well. Not only will the heat pump save you money over the long term, you’ll get a rebate just for installing it.

If you’re buying a new manufactured home, you can get up to a $750 rebate for installing the ENERGY STAR heat pump, or smaller rebates for other types of energy-efficient heating systems. Same goes for new home construction. Combine the efficiency of electric heating and cooling with high insulation standards when building a new home, and you have the basis for the Touchstone Energy Home. By meeting minimum Home Energy Rating System (HERS) standards, you’ll save money and lower your energy usage over the lifetime of owning that home.

The SimpleSaver program is another way that we are working to keep your electricity affordable. Your participating co-op will pay you up to $20 per year for each central air conditioner you enroll into the program for as long as you remain in the program.

The program helps you limit your electric use at peak times during the summer and winter. Managing peak load also decreases Kentucky’s carbon footprint and gives all of us more time to explore affordable sources of renewable energy. Plus, that smart thermostat may earn you a $100 rebate.

Learn more at