By Jennifer Erb
2016-08-262016-09-01https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Jay Rateau grew up in Weirton WV. Little did he know at the time that his career would take him to more than 90 countries across the world for business or pleasure. During the course of his career he had the opportunity to meet with members of royal families and statesman from many nations. Jay originally thought of a career in the medical field but transferred to engineering given the strong demand for WVU engineers in the late 70s. He chose Industrial Engineering because it seemed to be the most versatile of all the engineering majors.
Jay’s career direction was set while he was in college. Working with Dr. Donald Gochenour he got the opportunity to work on a federal grant performing energy efficiency studies for WV public school buildings. Jay comments that Dr. Gochenour gave him an opportunity to present his results to school administrators and Boards of Education members. “This was a great confidence builder for me,” Jay says.
Jay returned home to do an internship at National Steel’s Research Center. His task was to review capital projects to confirm energy saving claims. Jay developed a software tool that engineers could use to determine the optimum insulation material and thickness when insulating pipelines and tanks. The internship in turn led to a process engineering position at the Research Center when he graduated.
While working at National Steel, Jay’s work led to a number of creative ideas to reduce energy costs. One of these ideas influenced natural gas regulations and accelerated the opening of U.S. natural gas markets to competition. Jay challenged the right to connect to a pair of interstate transmission pipelines running through his plant to gain access to natural gas at wholesale prices rather than purchasing that same gas a few miles downstream from his local gas distributor (LDC) at retail prices. Jay and his team obtained federal regulatory (FERC) approval to connect to the interstate pipeline, only to have that interconnection blocked by a legal challenge by the LDC at a state level. After a long protracted legal battle, National Steel ultimately prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in what became the landmark case for industrial gas by-pass of an LDC. Jay later applied the same thinking to electricity and was able to leverage his local electric companies to obtain discounted electricity tariffs.
Jay became quite well known for his efforts and Alcoa lured him away from National Steel. Initially Jay’s efforts at Alcoa were energy focused but eventually he became involved in business development. He led Alcoa’s efforts to expand its markets to other countries by finding unique locations where abundant, low cost energy intersected with key raw materials and infrastructure to support aluminum industry development . This is what took him around the world. A recent success supported by Jay’s efforts, was Alcoa’s Joint Venture with Ma’aden (state enterprise for mining and metals) in Saudi Arabia. The Ma’aden Aluminum JV is an $11.5 billion investment in bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminum smelting, and downstream production facilities capable of producing a number of consumer products from Saudi bauxite or dirt. Jay states, “Developing the Mining and Metals Sector is a key strategic initiative for Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy and reduce its dependency on crude oil.” Jay spent years in Saudi constructing and commissioning the world’s largest combined water and power plant which represents an additional investment of $4.4 billion. “What was most gratifying about this work was that we were building entire industries and influencing nation’s economies in some cases,” Jay says.
While Jay’s career has not been a typical one for an Industrial Engineer, he says that the fundamentals he learned at WVU have been critical to everything he has done.
Jay has traveled the world, he is always amazed to find WVU graduates everywhere he goes. It is a Mountaineer world.
Mr. Rateau is the Vice President Global Power Generation Operations for Alcoa Energy and President of Alcoa Fuels Inc. He joined Alcoa Inc. in 1996 and has held a number of executive positions in the areas of energy, global strategic sourcing and business development.. In his current role, Mr. Rateau is responsible for Alcoa Energy’s global power generation facilities. Before that, Mr. Rateau spent 15 years with National Steel Corporation in various roles including strategic sourcing, operations, engineering and research & development.
Mr. Rateau has more than 35 years of experience in all aspects of the energy sector including energy resource development, construction and operation of energy conversion processes, energy procurement and risk management practices, energy efficiency and demand side management, and utility regulatory/legislative activities in both domestic and international energy markets. In addition to North American energy markets, he has extensive experience and knowledge of international energy markets within Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, South America and Middle East.
During much of his career, Mr. Rateau has served as a large industrial customer advocate in the domestic utility regulatory and legislative areas. He has served as speaker and panelist for Executive Enterprises, Center for Business Intelligence, World Congress Inc, Infocast and others addressing a wide range of current energy issues including energy market deregulation and reform, specific energy sector strategies, and impact of globalization on world energy markets.
Mr. Rateau has served as an Independent Director of PostRock Energy Corporation and as Chairman of Board of Quest Resource Corporation. PostRock Energy and Quest Resources are domestic oil and natural gas exploration and production companies specializing in nonconventional energy resources such as coal bed methane and shale gas. He also served as a member of the management board of Pace Global Energy Services, a leading global energy consulting and management company.
Mr. Rateau holds an MBA from Michigan State University and BS Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University.