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Getting to Know Your Expert Interview Series: Paul Dumais, Expert in the Transmission Professionals Community

Energy Central

The transmission and distribution system of the utility sector is often thought of as the most intricate, complicated, and expansive machine there is. Not only does the T&D infrastructure stretch to all corners of the country, but its constant and reliable operation is absolutely critical to the day-to-day operation of life as we know it and it impacts every single industry in the economy.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the transmission system, and Energy Central is lucky to count among our community members a number of highly respected experts who work in and deeply understand the transmission systems. Paul Dumais is one such expert in our Transmission Professionals Community, and he happens to be a valued member of Energy Central’s network of experts. In this role, Paul offers his decades of experience and his impressive wealth of knowledge of the transmission sector to the larger Energy Central community every week. But don’t take my word for it; I interviewed Paul as a part of our “Getting to Know Your Experts” interview series so you could have more of an appreciation for his background and the value he brings to us all.

Read our conversation, and next time you see him posting about the happenings at FERC or the needs of the transmission industry, be sure to leave him a comment or even ask him a question!

Matt Chester: I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions for me so the community can get to know you better. The best way for that to start, I’ve found, is with a basic intro. So can you describe your background and how you got involved with the utility sector and transmission specifically?

Paul Dumais: I began my career in the utility industry right out of college.  I worked for a small utility in the northeast where I learned FERC accounting and utility ratemaking.  The company became part of a much larger organization which presented opportunities.  After working on state ratemaking items for many years, I provided financial and technical services to customer service people serving residential, commercial, and larger industrial customers and then formed an enterprise-wide asset management and investment planning group. 

I then took on transmission policy and ratemaking for the entire organization.  Here is where I got to know FERC well.  I led transmission development exploration while overseeing transmission ratemaking in New England and in New York.  I helped my organization have a presence at FERC by actively participating in rulemakings and other proceedings.  In September 2018, I retired after 40 years of service to form Dumais Consulting, which focusses on working with electric and natural gas entities with their FERC ratemaking matters. 

 

MC: If you could give a younger version of yourself, just at the beginning of that energy industry career journey, any piece of advice, what would it be?

PD: Learn and always keep learning.  Pursue opportunities to work in different areas so that you have knowledge of the company and industry.  Work hard and add value so that you can take on broader responsibilities.  It does not happen overnight – it takes much time.  Focus on the things that are most important, as you will never be able to complete everything. 

 

MC: You’re heavily involved in all things FERC and FERC-related, so I’d love to dig into that. In your years of experience, how have you noticed changes in the way FERC operates within the utility sector, and where has the regulatory body stayed consistent over the years?

PD: My intense involvement with FERC has been the last ten years.  FERC does well to stick to its core mission – just and reasonable rates.  That mission has expanded to include enforcement and reliability.  FERC’s mission is to assist consumers in obtaining economically efficient, safe, reliable, and secure energy services at a reasonable cost through appropriate regulatory and market means, and collaborative efforts. FERC is very effective in its mission and has been over time.     

 

MC: How do you think the role of FERC may change, if at all, in the future as the utility sector becomes more decentralized and shifts at least somewhat away from the traditional paradigm of centralized generation that’s brought many miles over the T&D network?

PD: As there is more focus on distributed generation on the distribution system, the states will play a bigger role.  FERC will ensure that wholesale power markets accommodate these distributed resources and that the transmission system remains secure and reliable. 

MC: What value do you find in the Energy Central Community, both as an expert who is able to share his insights and as a reader who is able to understand more about what others are doing. What keeps you coming back to Energy Central and sharing with this community?

PD: The Energy Central Community is extensive and active.  I share updates on FERC items and my insights to benefit the Community and to be known as a go-to person for FERC matters.  I gain insights from the posts of others

 

MC: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

PD: Transmission investment is key to the economic well-being of the United States.  I appreciate that Congress has positioned FERC to provide financial incentives to the developers of important transmission investments.  The success of transmission development is dependent on a supportive regulatory environment.  For the most part, FERC has provided such an environment and it is imperative that it continues so that needed transmission will be built. 

 


 

Thanks once again to Paul for sharing his time and insights in this interview and for being a valued expert in the Energy Central Community. Now that you know the wide range and great depth of his experience, you can keep an eye out for content and comments from him and engage with him to gain more insights from his well of knowledge.

The other expert interviews that we’ve completed in this series can be read here, and if you are interested in becoming an expert then you can reach out to me or you can apply here.

Discussions

Ben Schultz's picture
Ben Schultz on Dec 1, 2019 7:31 am GMT

PD: Learn and always keep learning.  Pursue opportunities to work in different areas so that you have knowledge of the company and industry. 

Great advice. I'd say that this line of thinking is even more applicable today, especially as we see the energy industry merging with fields such as blockchain and AI.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 2, 2019 2:29 pm GMT

Absolutely! It's no longer an era where utility professionals can rest of their laurels and the knowledge they've long had, but rather there's an inherent need to keep up with these emerging developments that make the industry consistently look different than it did just a few years earlier

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Dec 2, 2019 5:22 pm GMT

Many thanks for your contributions. May I please ask the following:  What do you perceive to be the principal threat(s) to the reliability of our US energy infrastructure at the moment?

Paul Dumais's picture
Paul Dumais on Dec 3, 2019 1:29 am GMT

Mark,

Much of the transmission system was built over 50 years ago and needs to be upgraded and replaced.  Transmission orders need a stable, predictable and favorable regulatory environment to make such long-term investment in the electric transmission system.  

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Dec 5, 2019 9:16 pm GMT

Thanks Paul for keeping our communities members up-to-date on all things FERC.  It has been fun working with you.  Looking forward to 2020! 

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