Randall Davis is a Commissioner for the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and President of Lines Up, Inc.
PUF: How did you come to be a commissioner in Maine?
Commissioner Davis: When I graduated from college in the 1970s, I wanted to put my chemical engineering degree to use by applying process control computers to run industrial processes. This application was still in its infancy and Maine's pulp and paper industry was not quite ready to embrace the concept.
I elected to leave the state and went to work for Exxon where I had the chance to work on the leading edge of developing real world computerized process control schemes. Despite the wonderful work and getting to travel, I was beginning to ask myself, why don't I live in Maine and maybe vacation elsewhere, rather than living everywhere else and vacationing back in Maine? This decision led me to a thirty-nine-year career with what is now known as Sappi North America at their Somerset facility, one of the crown jewels of pulp and paper complexes around the world.
The Somerset facility has been a dynamic and growing complex since its initial start-up in the 1970s as a state-of-the-art pulp mill complex. In the early 1980s, growth and new opportunities continued with the construction and operation of three modern paper machines and the energy infrastructure to support them.