Touchstone Energy® is an alliance of over 700 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states, that deliver high standards of service, power and energy solutions to more than 30 million member owners across the country. Touchstone Energy® complements the local connection that co-ops have with their members while providing the resources of a vast, integrated network of cooperatives. It helps to reinforce co-op dedication by serving member-owners with integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community.
Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives:
Pool resources to create quality advertising and communications materials that powerfully communicate the distinctive advantages of electric cooperatives. These include TV, radio and print advertisements, as well as videos, brochures, bill stuffers, posters, counter cards, newsletter stories and more. Television ads are placed on national channels like CNN, ESPN, the Discovery Channel, TNT and the Weather Channel and in a number of regional, state and local markets across the country.
In 2009, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives received an ACSI score of 81, which was one of the highest scores across ALL industries and eight points higher than the average for the electric utility industry.
Team up with respected national partners like Discovery Channel School, the American Football Coaches Association and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide programs that local cooperatives can use to enhance the quality of life in the communities they serve.
Deliver valuable employee-education programs that equip employees with the skills to communicate the cooperative difference and provide top-notch customer service.
Offer an array of services and programs to enhance cooperative relationships with business customers. These include the New and Emerging Technologies Conference, training programs, the National Business Advisory Council and seminars with national firms like Lowe's, Wal-Mart and others.
Seek to strengthen member loyalty with a variety of programs, including Co-op connections, a member benefits card that offers co-op members product and service discounts at participating retail businesses and hammers home the value of coop membership.
For more information about Touchstone Energy® and a list of participating co-ops by state, visit www.touchstoneenergy.coop.
The Touchstone Energy® Hot Air Balloon is intended to serve as a goodwill ambassador for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and its member-Cooperatives. Our two newest balloons are 77,000 cubic foot hot air balloons that stand over 77 feet tall and are 60 feet wide when fully inflated. Each are built of hyperlife fabric panels and boast a 14 cubic foot ascot basket. They carry a pilot and two average size passengers. The balloons are fired by dual propane burners and fueled by two 15-gallon propane tanks. The balloons were built by Lindstrand Balloons of Hanover, Illinois in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009. With the first two balloons having been retired, but taking delivery of two new balloons in 2014, there will be five balloons flying in our fleet.
The balloons have the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives logo in bold letters on three sides. Everywhere the balloons go, they promote the brand and the values of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives... providing service with integrity, accountability, innovation, and commitment to community. These values are demonstrated through the presence of the balloons at national competitions and special events, and the team's interactions with spectators. These values are also conveyed in local philanthropic fundraising activities which the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon program supports whenever and wherever the balloons are flying.
Cooperative Balloon Associates, LLC ("CBA") was formed in 1999 by the following 10 Illinois Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives looking for a unique way to introduce the brand to their members.
Shelby Electric Cooperative/Shelbyville, IL
Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative/Mattoon, IL
Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative/Paxton, IL
Norris Electric Cooperative/Newton, IL
Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative/Auburn, IL
McDonough Power Cooperative/Macomb, IL
Corn Belt Energy Corporation/ Bloomington, IL
Southern Illinois Power Cooperative/Marion, IL
Jo-Carroll Electric Cooperative/Elizabeth, IL
Prairie Power, Inc.Jacksonville, IL
CBA is licensed to own and operate the Touchstone Energy® Balloon Programs.
The Touchstone Energy balloons provide a variety of advertising opportunities. More than 5 million spectators attend balloon events annually nationwide and several million more see our balloons in the air. Hot air balloons are universally fascinating with a broad audience appeal. Their unique size and dynamic colors, plus the peacefulness of their movement almost guarantee the attention of conventional media, such as TV, radio and newspapers, drawing even greater exposure. Some of the more popular balloon events in the U.S. draw between 40,000 - 1.1 million people. The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives logo on the balloon serves as a giant, colorful and dynamic billboard, whether flying overhead or tethered at a key location. Hot air balloon advertising makes a big impression on spectators. Balloon advertising is typically made without the appearance of overt commercialism. The retention level of a balloon is very strong, with respondents easily remembering balloons while often forgetting billboards or other forms of advertising. People seeing the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives balloon will remember it for a long time.
The Touchstone Energy balloons are a colorful and friendly medium for promoting the values of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and its member-Cooperatives. It can be used in any number of promotional activities including, football games, annual community festivals, state or county fairs, parades and school demonstrations. The pilots and flight crew also provide unique public relations opportunities for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. They are knowledgeable of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and the sport of ballooning, and are available for special activities, including autograph sessions, presentations on Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, ballooning, and other topics, press conferences associated with balloon events, balloon rides, and giving out Touchstone Energy Cooperatives' mementos.
The Touchstone Energy balloons are a highly visible means of demonstrating good corporate citizenship at civic and philanthropic events. Everyday the balloons are flown, a monetary contribution is made on behalf of the sponsoring member-Cooperative(s) to a local charity. This fundraising purpose can be expanded to other fundraising events or activities coordinated with the use of the balloons.
HOT AIR BALLOONS:
We currently have five hot air balloons and chase vehicles that are available for rent for events. Our current schedule is published on this site. Please call or email Cheri White, our General Manager to check availability and find out further information.
Cheri White, General Manager
COLD AIR BALLOONS:
We currently have five 10 foot cold air balloons for rent for events. Please call or e-mail Kevin Bernson, our Marketing Officer to check availabilty, schedule your event or find out further information.
Kevin Bernson, Marketing Officer
About Your Hot Air Balloon Ride:
Our flights take place shortly after sunrise or approximately 2 hours prior to sunset. We generally meet at a convenient location and all passengers ride in our chase van to the launch site
Ballooning is strictly a 'fair weather' sport. There are several conditions under which, for safety reasons, a balloon flight will not take place. Rain, surrounding storm systems, and high winds are typical weather conditions that will cause us to cancel or postpone a scheduled flight Generally a launch will not take place if wind speeds exceed 10 mph. The reason? High winds may cause unsafe conditions when the pilot must land the balloon.
We will ask you to contact us for final details regarding the meeting place and time. If you've scheduled a morning flight, we will ask you to contact us the prior evening. If you have scheduled an evening flight, we will ask you to call us just after noon that day. This way we can have the latest and most specific weather information to determine whether or not we can fly.
We use different launch sites depending on the wind speed and direction for that day. This enables us to make best use of the specific conditions and to ensure the best flight possible.
Our flights last about an hour. However, you should expect your entire adventure to last about three hours or more.
The chase crew is in constant radio contact with the pilot. In addition, they will follow the path of the balloon visually as much as possible, all of which will allow them to be at the landing spot prior to or shortly after the balloon has landed.
Every flight is different. Most passengers prefer low level flights as more can be seen and heard. The pilot will fly higher and lower in search of the most favorable wind direction. Generally, most flights are flown between 500-2000 ft.
Absolutely! However, we are not responsible for the safety of camera equipment. The pilot may ask that cameras be stowed safely away during landing, so a neck strap or, even better a camera case is advisable.
Once we have launched, wind direction and speed will determine the flight path and distance the balloon will fly -- for example if the wind speeds are 5 mph, it is likely that we will fly a distance of approximately 5 miles in the time you are in the air. Other than general direction, we never know when we take off where we will land.
Clothes worn on flight day should be comfortable clothes you don't mind getting dirty, as you may be asked to participate in the inflation or deflation of the balloon. In order to better help you prepare for your special day we have compiled the following Should and Should Not wear list:
T-shirt or casual shirt and jeans or comfortable casual pants. For morning flights layering with a jacket, sweatshirt , or long sleeved shirt is a good idea since early morning flights may be cool for launch and warm by the time we land.
Tennis shoes or hiking-style boots designed for walking comfortably on all types of terrain.
Should NOT wear:
Skirts or dresses which make it difficult, awkward, and sometimes embarrassing to climb in and out of the balloon basket.
High heeled shoes or boots which may cause ankle injuries upon landing or on uneven terrain that may be chosen as a launch or landing site.
Open toe shoes or sandals. We find that feet are best covered and protected.
As a good "rule of thumb," keep clothing casual and comfortable according to climate for the time of the year.
Although it is helpful for the crew if you participate in the inflation and pack-up process, it is not necessary.