Twilight's William Sterner appointed to PUC council
Even though he recently retired, William Sterner's nearly four decades in the utility industry is still beneficial for consumers.
But then, the Twilight man has made serving his neighbors his vocation.
Sterner retired Aug. 1 from the national utility workers union. He worked for years as a lineman for West Penn Power.
His expertise in the utility field prompted state Rep. Peter J. Daley, D-California, to nominate Sterner to serve on the state Public Utility Commission's Consumer Advisory Council.
The council meets monthly at the PUC offices in Harrisburg to discuss consumer issues and all aspects of public utilities.
“It's going to go hand-in-hand with a lot of things I've done throughout my career, not only as a lineman restoring electricity, but for the union advocating for safety issues for workers,” Sterner said.
Sterner started his career in the utility field in 1973 when he was hired as an apprentice lineman for West Penn Power. Prior to that, he worked for a month at the Westinghouse Waltz Mill facility.
His utility career began after a short stint in college. After graduating from Belle Vernon Area High School in 1972, he enrolled at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. But before his first year ended, he decided college wasn't for him and left to find a job.
Sterner grew up on Fell Street in North Belle Vernon, and settled into the small community of Twilight Borough in 1975 after getting married. He was 20 years old when he married his junior high school sweetheart Pamela. The couple met at the Bellmar school.
Over the years at West Penn Power, Sterner's position changed.
In 1997, he was elected president of Local 102 of the Utility Workers Union of America, which required him take a leave of absence from his job as lead lineman. Local 102 has 17 branches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and, at the time, Virginia. He worked full-time with the union until he retired in 2009 from West Penn Power's successor, Allegheny Power.
After retiring in 2009, Sterner was hired by the national utility workers union and became a regional staff member. He retired last month as a regional representative.
In addition to now serving on the PUC Consumer Advisory Council, Sterner is a long-time Twilight councilman.
Sterner has served on Twilight Borough council for 25 years. He said friends who were serving on council got him involved, asking him to fill a vacancy. He had been working to get water service for the neighborhood at the time.
“I've always been interested in the community I live in,” Sterner said. “I believe public service is something we should all try to do in one way or another.”
Sterner said because Twilight is a small community, council members go above and beyond to help residents.
“We don't have a tax base and a budget that allows us to hire contractors,” Sterner said. “When a tree falls down across the road, there's a couple members of council that get called.
“Its hands on. It's not just attending a meeting once a month. In a community this small, that's what you have to do to have control of your community.”
Sterner said he has no plans of letting retirement slow him down.
“I have some property in Twilight which I built a barn on previously,” Sterner said. “I'm working on enlarging the barn. I like to build things as a hobby.
“I enjoy the outdoors. I have a few quads and I like to take rides with my wife in our little sports car.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.