Electricity from Cow Manure Failing Despite Administration Support

(p. B1) Wisconsin dairy farmer Art Thelen was full of optimism a decade ago when he joined a growing group of U.S. farmers investing in technology that turns livestock manure into electricity.
The systems promised to curb air pollution from agriculture, generate extra revenue and–in no small feat–curtail odors that waft for miles in much of farm country.
“It was a great idea, and when it worked well, it was wonderful,” Mr. Thelen said.
Now the 61-year-old is among a group of farmers who recently have shut down their manure-to-energy systems–known as anaerobic digesters–or scrapped plans to build them because of the prolonged slump in natural-gas prices and higher-than-expected maintenance costs that made the systems less economical.

For the full story, see:
DAVID KESMODEL. “Energy Prices Steer Farmers Away From Manure Power.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Feb. 19, 2016): B1-B2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 18, 2016, and has the title “F.D.A. Regulator, Widowed by Cancer, Helps Speed Drug Approval.”)

Obama Says Stimulus Worked at Battery Plant Where CEO Remains “Frustrated” at Losses

(p. A12) JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — President Obama on Friday [February 26, 2016] used a visit to a high-technology battery plant in Florida to argue that the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal subsidies he signed into law during his first days in office had bolstered the economy, transformed the nation’s energy sector, and positioned the United States for a strong rebound.
But Mr. Obama’s trip to the Saft America factory here, opened in 2011 with a $95.5 million investment from the Department of Energy, also highlighted the challenges that have tempered the economic recovery and the difficulty that the president has had in claiming credit for it.
. . .
After touring the facility and watching a large robot named Wall-E assembling one of the batteries, the president called the factory “tangible evidence” that his stimulus package had worked and said that the economy was better off for it. “We took an empty swamp and turned it into an engine of innovation,” he said.
That engine, though, has sputtered as it has struggled to start here. Saft, based in Paris, announced last week that it was reducing the factory’s value because it had still not gained profitability in the competitive lithium-ion battery market. Saying he was “frustrated,” the company’s chief executive projected the plant might not be profitable for a few more years.

For the full story, see:
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS. “Obama Praises Stimulus at Battery Plant.” The New York Times (Sat., FEB. 27, 2016): A12.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 26, 2016, and has the title “Obama Points to Florida Factory as Evidence That Stimulus Worked.”)