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Energy Spotlight: Joe Horvath

Joe Horvath caught the energy bug eight years ago while handling public relations for a utility that was trying to build a coal-fired power plant in Virginia.

“I got a pretty good dose of what the issues were and what the landscape was,” he said of the project that ended up being canceled. “At that time, though, people were saying, ‘Let’s use natural,’ but there was this uncertainty about supply and pricing. This was all before what happened here.”

What happened was the shale boom that prompted his new employer, Williams Cos., to boost its presence significantly here as it builds pipelines and processing plants to handle all the gas. Horvath, 35, joined Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams this summer as a senior communications specialist in its Pittsburgh office.

“We do a lot of educating people about the need for pipelines,” he said of his job.

The West Virginia native, who graduated with a journalism degree from West Virginia University in 2004, moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 to work at public relations agency Burson-Marsteller, and soon moved to FedEx Ground.

“That initial work with the utility made me very interested in energy” and got him involved with the Moon-based company’s sustainability and fuel department. “Knowing the scale of FedEx with 50,000 vehicles in its ground fleet … you start thinking about the potential use of natural gas and propane vehicles. And you say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if all the stuff being produced here in our backyard could fuel all of this?’ ”

In September, he took a job in Richmond, Va., but his family — he and wife Samantha have two children, Joseph, 5, and Harper, 3 — wanted to return to Pittsburgh.

In addition to media relations and employee communications, his job involves making people more familiar with the Williams name and its community activities. A company survey showed many people don’t know about the company, even though it operates thousands of miles of pipeline and is involved in several high-profile projects around the Marcellus and Utica shales.

“We need to toot our own horn,” Horvath said.

Outside of work, raising two children keeps him busy, and he tries to squeeze in a round of golf when he can.

His home in Mt. Lebanon abuts a park that offers an escape for him and his children.

“I find it soothing to go to the park, and they like it, so it’s perfect,” he said.

In related news, Energy Spotlight: Mary Sullivan.

This article was written by DAVID CONTI from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.