Rich Surace ('00 BS)

Portfolio Analyst at Duke Energy Corporation

My first job out of Penn State was with MDA Federal Inc. (formally EarthSat) as a staff meteorologist. Not long after starting, I was introduced to programming languages such as VBA, PERL, and HTML. I quickly realized that I not only had a passion for weather, but also for programming.

During the summer of 2004, David D’Arcangelo (’94 BS / ‘00 MS), Director of Market Fundamentals/Lead Meteorologist at Duke Energy (formally Cinergy), approached me about an opening for a weather analyst/application developer. This was exactly what I was looking for, a perfect fusion of weather and programming in the fast-paced commodity trading industry.

The world of commodity trading is ever-changing .There are always new ways to look at situations and figure out how to capitalize on them. As a result, I frequently need to refine and expand my skill set. Having worked with the Market Fundamentals group allowed me to touch on many aspects of commodities and to learn how they work. My experience in weather and programming combined with a knowledge of commodities led me to create tools that forecast electric generation load, natural gas storage estimates among other commodity related applications (I can’t give away all my secrets).

In September 2007, I left my weather role to becoming a portfolio analyst with the Commercial Asset Management group, still with Duke. My current job forces me to know the ins and outs of the natural gas markets and to relay information to the risk managers (traders). My knowledge of weather has come in extremely handy with the gas markets since they are so strongly weather driven. To be successful in the commodity markets, one must be willing to take risk, especially with forecast (weather, prices, etc). It is those risks that make us valuable and gives a company an advantage over the market.