For over 20 years, WGL Energy has been a leader in competitive energy supply and environmentally friendly solutions, but their roots actually go back to the 19th century!
The Tech Council’s Jonathan Kersting recently spoke with Clint Zediak, VP of Sales at Marketing at WGL Energy, about the turbulence of energy prices and the company’s growth in Pittsburgh:
JK: Can you tell me about your background?
ZEDIAK: I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. I got my engineering degree from Penn State and my MBA from Pitt. I’ve been in energy for over 20 years and have spent the last 10 with WGL Energy, where I lead the sales and marketing team. We're a competitive retail supplier, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, and have been in business for about 25 years.
JK: You say 25 years, but WGL has roots that go way back, right?
ZEDIAK: I can tell that you did your homework! Our utility, Washington Gas, which is the local gas utility of the Washington, D.C. area, is celebrating its 175th birthday this year.
JK: What you guys do is very interesting. Some people may not realize it, but they do appreciate it when they get their utility bills. You’re assuring a consistent price for your energy, which is not easy to do! Tell us how WGL works to provide that consistency.
ZEDIAK: When you hear the term competitive energy supplier, there can be a lot of confusion. But basically, if you look at your bill, you have three parts: distribution, transmission, and generation. Distribution is your local utility; that price is regulated, typically by the Public Utility Commission. Now, that has nothing to do with a company like ours. The transmission and the generation, that's where there's a competitive market. And we are basically financial advisors for that part of the bill. If you think about the distribution – the poles and wires that connect your house to your local town – the transmissions are the big pipes and wires that cross state lines and get the molecules and electrons where they need to go. Generation is the power plants and gas drilling.
Anyone who's been paying attention to the news for the last year or two has seen the volatility in energy market prices. From 2021 to 2022, prices almost doubled, but they've come back down to almost where they were in 2021. So, just in the last 18 to 24 months, there has been an incredible amount of volatility. If customers are not shopping with a supplier like WGL Energy, they're inheriting that risk. We help customers manage that risk.
JK: You work with both companies and individuals as well, right?
ZEDIAK: Absolutely. We serve residential customers, quite often fixing their prices to provide the best strategy for them. We work with large commercial, industrial, and public sector companies that may have a little more expertise and experience so we can fix their whole price, or they might want to fix half of it. The other half goes onto what we call index, if they have a view that prices are coming down. But again, we're basically their financial advisor for these two-thirds of the bill that are open competition.
JK: How big is your team here in Pittsburgh?
ZEDIAK: We’re currently growing – we’re probably up to about seven or eight people now in our downtown office.
JK: Where would you like to see Pittsburgh tech in the future?
ZEDIAK: Who knows what the next 40 years is going to bring, right? I mean, 40-50 years ago, we were going to live on the Moon, and no one had heard of the Internet. And now no one's on the Moon and the Internet is everywhere. So, the next 50 years could see anything.
Pittsburgh is exciting, with all the AI and tech that's coming. We're so happy to be members of the Tech Council, because we want these companies to innovate. We want them to push the boundaries; we can manage their energy volatility and make sure they get a predictable price that they can use to help manage their budgets. Then they can put their time, resources, and innovation into what they do best.
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