Manure Power and Other Ventures

Friday’s WSJ contained an article with the headline, “Bull Market Fades for Manure Power” – since there’s so much manure being shoveled around in the current political climate, I was intrigued and read the article. Interesting – it seems that 10 years ago, dairy farmers across the country embraced the idea of anaerobic digesters, developed to both take care of the waste of dairy farming (this is where the manure comes in) as well as to produce natural gas as the product. However, because of the nation’s struggling economy and the prolonged slump in natural gas prices (as well as the higher-than-expected maintenance costs of the process), construction of new digesters has slowed, and, in some cases, these operations have been abandoned. This seems an all-too familiar tale of alternative energy efforts. Certainly, no one could have predicted the gas price slump (except those who were following the political policy arena!), but, surely, the maintenance costs could have been accurately predicted. Why is it that modern corporations are able to introduce new mechanical innovations and seem to know (within dollar accuracy) what those will cost, how they are to be maintained, and what that will cost? Why, then, is it not possible for those who are inclined to embrace processes related to the environment to accurately predict start-up and operating costs – just as though it were a business (which, indeed, it is.) However, it’s usually the taxpayers who foots those particular bills, so the lack of interest in efficiency can be understood – it’s government, after all. And to round out these thoughts with a consistent theme of manure, the cartoon in Thursday’s WSJ showed 3 dogs (dressed as businessmen, with ties around their necks), approaching the office elevator – two were saying to a third dog, “What a week! We’re going out to roll i some stuff. Want to join us?” Now, you have to be a “dog person” and understand dogs to “get” the humor of this cartoon, but I think it’s particularly appropriate for the nation’s current climate – we’re all beginning to feel like we should go out and roll in something just to offset the bilge we’re confronted with day-to-day! Here’s to your finding that something that’s right (ripe – ?) for rolling!
I’m currently working on the book, Sunday on the Hill which is a new leadership book that chronicles my learning experiences through the years in the company of our dogs. The book will be out mid-2016; I hope that you will find it intriguing.

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