Over half of our employees are members of the Environment Foundation. They donate a dollar (or more) per week from their paycheck, which is matched by Aspen Skiing Company, the Aspen Community Foundation and Lavazza. All funds — more than $3.5 million in 21 years — support environmental projects in the community. The employee board of directors of this independent nonprofit learns about philanthropy and the nonprofit world.
Destroying Coal Mine Methane
In 2012, Aspen Skiing Company partnered with Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine, Holy Cross Energy, and Vessels Carbon Solutions to convert waste methane from a coal plant in Somerset, Colorado into usable electricity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating financial return along the way.
At peak production, the mine produced 3 megawatts of baseload power, which was as much energy as ASC uses annually at all four of its resorts, including hotels and restaurants. The electricity generated and the carbon offsets flowed into the utility grid, not to ASC directly, greening the entire regional grid.
Since this project started, it has prevented the emission of 250 billion cubic feet of methane annually into the atmosphere — mitigating a huge problem when it comes to global warming. This is equivalent to removing 517,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year. On the financial front, the methane-to-electricity project produced between $100,000 and $150,000 in revenue per month from electricity and carbon credit sales to Holy Cross Energy. After nearly ten years, ASC has only about $750,000 remaining to pay off its initial investment of $5.34 million. A link to a report on phase one of this project is below.
All coal mines that leak methane experience a “decline curve.” That means the volume and quality of the escaping gas decreases over time. That has been true with this project too. That means we’re changing how it operates. Because we can no longer run generators with the lower concentrations of methane, we will be flaring it. This ensures that the super-potent greenhouse gas doesn’t vent to the atmosphere, and instead gets converted to vastly less potent CO2. The project will continue to make money by selling these methane destruction credits into the California cap and trade market.
These are a rare example of a functional carbon offset — because without the sale of the credit, there would be no financial incentive to flare the methane.
Making Our Voices Heard
Taking a stand against an existential threat to your business is something any good CEO would do. That's why Mike Kaplan has frequently put pen to paper to voice his concerns in major publications around America. Below are some of his op-eds on behalf of Aspen Skiing Company and the values we embody.
Supporting the Climate Bill
We know that policy is the only way to meaningfully influence the climate crisis, and our longtime partners at Audi agree. –Newsweek, July 18, 2022
Aspen Needs Mexican Tourists
They've Been Staying Away, and "Trump is the No. 1 Reason." – Wall Street Journal; September 21, 2017
We're Still Here
Aspen Skiing Company remains committed to promoting action on climate change, sustainability in the community, and tolerance for all. –Aspen Times, December 27, 2016
Protect Our Winters (POW)
Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC)
Funding the Future
Most recently, the Willits Block 9 Employee Housing, is entirely electric, a key climate solution.