Celebrating Our Veterans: Tony Costa Went from Army Veteran to a Career Utility Employee- [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Interview]

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  • Nov 9, 2021

To celebrate Veterans Day this upcoming Thursday, November 11th, the Energy Central Community Team will be shining a light on the many outstanding utility professionals in our network who also spent time in the military.  This week, we'll be featuring interviews with these veterans sharing how they found their way into the industry. We will also highlight their unique perspectives of the industry and how they are influencing the utility space.  

All the interviews will be collected at this special Veterans Day 2021 topic tag.

To all the veterans in the Energy Central Community, we want to say thank you for your service and we wish you a Happy Veterans Day. 

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Tony Costa retired from a long career in utilities and communications in 2009. He's lived most of his life in New Jersey; you can tell that from his accent. When he was 19, he was drafted into the Army, endured basic training, and was sent to Vietnam at the height of the war in 1967-68, including the Tet offensive. Fortunately, his math and literacy skills meant that he was not posted to the front line but an inspection team that traveled around the whole country reporting on the state of military units and their equipment. That didn't stop him from being mortared and shot at regularly, though.

When he returned to the USA in 1968, he was looking for an office job. He went for an interview with Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSEG) in Newark, NJ. He was lucky to meet another former soldier, who hired him for his math and typing skills – he'd already composed many reports so had some competencies the company required. Tony says, "I was trained to track substation loads and capacitor banks.  Later I learned to develop load forecasts for PSEG substations and large customer substations.  The forecasts extended out to 20 years.  I later represented PSEG in the PJM power pool's Load Analysis Subcommittee."

Utilities changed a lot during his tenure. Vertically-oriented companies were split up, and the sector fragmented into many transmission, generation, and service organizations. Tony regards this as a major mistake, which did the industry no favors.

After ten years at PSEG, Tony moved on to General Public Utilities (GPU) in NJ. He managed the Load and Economic Forecasting Group and represented GPU in the PJM power pool. Among his responsibilities were preparing electric sales, customer, and regional economic forecasts for GPU's three utility subsidiaries in NJ and Pa. He also developed and provided testimony of forecast methodology to the Public Utility Commission.

Eventually, he retired from the energy industry and joined Verizon Communications for four years, finally bowing out as a senior executive in 2009.

He thinks the military can provide many soft skills which are usable in the civilian world. He developed concise writing skills as he was part of a team that sent comprehensive reports to the various military units they inspected, but also to higher command. His advice for young people joining the services is to focus on the No. 1 priority area they need for their future career in civilian life. "The military can educate you in a transferable skill, for example, electrical engineering, generation, transformers, all kinds of things, so you should take advantage of this while you are serving to prepare you for when you come out."

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 9, 2021

The military can educate you in a transferable skill, for example, electrical engineering, generation, transformers, all kinds of things, so you should take advantage of this while you are serving to prepare you for when you come out.

This is great intel-- you can start thinking and planning for these transferrable skills early on to make that transition as easy as possible. 

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Nov 10, 2021

Tony - thanks for your service and this great story!  I love the advice you provide for the next generation! 

Paul Gwaltney's picture
Paul Gwaltney on Nov 15, 2021

Thanks for your service and thanks for the good advice.  


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