The nonprofit designation of Aspen Power Plant was questioned by attendees of a community meeting held last week.
Angie Callen, executive director of the The Red Brick Center, asked Aspen Power Plant co-director David Cook about the 501c3 status of the organization. Cook responded that while the Aspen Power Plant is a registered nonprofit, they are not in the process of certifying it as a 501c3.
This spring, Cook, his Aspen 82 business partner Spencer McKnight and Aspen Brewing Company owner Duncan Clauss registered Aspen Power Plant as a nonprofit with the state of Colorado and dissolved their former LLC of the same name. The nonprofit is centered on what’s called the “generator” portion of the Aspen Power Plant, meant to offer subsidized workspace for entrepreneurs.
At this stage, all the nonprofit status really means is that the public can’t receive any dividends of the profits made at the Aspen Power Plant. Because they have not registered as a 501c3 and because they are not soliciting or accepting donations, the Aspen Power Plant doesn’t have any other regulations on profit margins, and its finances are not public documents.
David Houggy, president of the Aspen Science Center board, another nonprofit that bid for the space, questioned the directors about the balance of maintaining a public good while running the for-profit businesses that will contract with the nonprofit Aspen Power Plant.
“You could in fact pay all the money to the for-profits and have nothing left for the community,” said Houggy. “What's the regulatory body?”
After the meeting Cook said his team will work to build in financial accountability for the nonprofit.