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Ivan Penn, Times Staff Writer

Ivan Penn

A native of Washington, D.C., Ivan Penn joined the Times in July 2006 after more than 12 years with the Baltimore Sun. Penn covers utilities, energy and consumer issues as part of the Times' business team. He is married and has three children.

Phone: (727) 892-2332

Email: ipenn@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Consumers_Edge

  1. Next stop for solar ballot petition: Florida Supreme Court


    A ballot petition that would allow those who generate electricity from the sun to sell the power directly to other consumers moved to its final legal hurdle Friday with a request by Florida's attorney general for Supreme Court review.

    Attorney General Pam Bondi stated in a letter to the court that the ballot title and summary meet basic requirements. But she also asked for the court's opinion on that matter....

  2. State regulators seek public comment to improve Florida's solar programs


    State regulators are seeking comments from the public about how to enhance and further develop Florida's solar power efforts.

    The state Public Service Commission said it wants information from individuals, business and utilities that helps address practical ways "to more effectively promote solar energy in Florida."

    "It makes sense to involve all stakeholders in gathering information on practical policies and programs to encourage solar energy," said PSC Chairman Art Graham. He said the commission has concluded that expensive pilot programs currently in place have yielded insufficient results....

  3. State regulators approve deal that will create largest solar project in Florida


    TALLAHASSEE — State regulators on Thursday approved a deal that will create Florida's largest solar project and provide power to the Sunshine State's smallest investor-owned utility.

    Gulf Power asked the state Public Service Commission to allow the utility to purchase power from three proposed solar plants under development by Gulf Coast Solar Center, a subsidiary of HelioSage LLC.

    The project includes solar photovoltaic plants totaling 120 megawatts at military bases in the Panhandle. ...

  4. PSC approves rate cut for Duke customers


    TALLAHASSEE — Duke Energy Florida customers will see their electric bills drop on average by $3.45 a month starting in May after state regulators on Thursday approved an end to charges related to the failed Levy County nuclear project.

    But the 1.7 million customers shouldn't get too comfortable with the extra change in their pockets.

    As early as Jan. 1, Duke plans to tack on charges related to the closing of the Crystal River nuclear plant. Those charges will reach $5 a month for the typical customer, unless the Legislature acts on a cost-reduction plan that would reduce the Crystal River customer fee to about $3. That would bring the net monthly savings to customers to 45 cents....

  5. Getting hired by Fintech makes workers feel like winners


    TAMPA – Fintech is the alcohol industry's PayPal. ¶ The financial services and data company handles billions in beer, wine and spirits sales payments for retailers and wholesalers. ¶ The company's customers include the likes of Trader Joe's and Publix Super Markets, Target and Walmart, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International, Great Bay Distributors and Pepin Distributors. ¶ And Fintech made the Top Workplaces list for small businesses at No. 34....

    Fintech production support analyst Linda Ritch, Thursday, 3/5/15.  Fintech, is the leader in providing electronic data and payments to the alcohol industry.
  6. At ad agency 22squared, employees care for each other


    TAMPA – Walk into 22squared Inc., and a skater might whiz by on his board or a unicyclist on his lone wheel. Someone might race by on foot, too. It's part of the creative environment of one of the top five independent advertising agencies in the country, one that might seem a bit intense at first. A hustle. An excitement to tell a story about a company. But there's also a kind of feng shui culture that somehow blends the individual talents into a cohesive unit. "This place has a way, a natural way of rejecting egos," said Scott Sheinberg, the company's chief creative officer and general manager of the Tampa office. "We're all leaders," he said. "We hold ourselves to that standard ... In the wrong culture, it's about me."...

    Content director Mindy Adams works in her 22squared office on the 35th floor of the SunTrust building in Tampa.
  7. Pharmaceutical consulting firm Xcenda focuses on employees


    PALM HARBOR – Over the past two decades, pharmaceutical consulting firm Xcenda grew from three employees in Palm Harbor to 325 across the United States. A little more than a quarter of that number work in the Tampa Bay area. Many work from home. ¶ Xcenda keeps acquiring space to accommodate the growth, including all or parts of three floors of its Palm Harbor headquarters in the 4000 block of Woodlands Parkway. ¶ The company also maintains offices in Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; San Bruno, Calif.; and Hannover, Germany....

    Pharmacist Chelsey Campbell says Xcenda’s culture drew her back to the company after interning there while she was a student.  
  8. Senate committee approves plan to save Duke Energy customers $600 million


    A state Senate committee voted Tuesday in favor of a proposal that would save Duke Energy Florida customers about $600 million on the cleanup of the Crystal River nuclear plant site.

    Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, offered the proposal as an amendment to a bill designed to reform the state Public Service Commission and improve utility billing practices.

    Latvala told members of the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee that Duke approached him about the proposal as a way to assuage consumer discontent after a series of mishaps that are costing customers billions of dollars....

  9. Duke Energy Florida proposes $600 million in savings for customers


    For the second time in a week, Duke Energy is moving to change its troubled image with Florida customers.

    The latest: a proposal by the utility to credit customers $600 million — or $2 to $3 per month for the average residential consumer.

    That proposal will be discussed at a hearing Tuesday before the state Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

    The proposal comes less than a week after Duke announced plans for construction of large-scale solar power plants as a bipartisan coalition pushes the Sunshine State to produce more of its electricity from the sun....

    Duke Energy announced the closing of the Crystal River nuclear plant in 2014 after a botched upgrade and maintenance project.
  10. Duke Energy proposes large scale solar power plants over next 10 years


    Duke Energy Florida announced plans Thursday to launch a major solar power effort that will produce electricity equivalent to that of a small power plant.

    The plan is a surprising move for Duke, which has held steadfast to the idea that solar won't work in Florida without storage because the Sunshine State has too many clouds.

    Duke's new position on solar comes as pressure mounts on Florida's investor-owned utilities from homeowners and business owners who want more solar on their rooftops....

  11. Charter Communications buying Bright House Networks in $10.4B deal


    A Connecticut company announced Tuesday that it will buy Bright House Networks, marking the second time this year that a major cable provider in Tampa Bay will be overtaken by a company with an unimpressive customer satisfaction record.

    Charter Communications Inc. said it plans to buy Bright House Networks LLC for $10.4 billion, forming the nation's second largest cable operator. Charter is the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States, while Bright House is the sixth biggest....

  12. GeniusCentral software support moves headquarters to St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A Sarasota company announced plans Thursday to move its headquarters to St. Petersburg and add 40 new jobs to its workforce, including some positions paying as much as $200,000.

    At a news conference with Gov. Rick Scott and Mayor Rick Kriseman, GeniusCentral Systems Inc. said it had considered other locations outside of Florida, but found St. Petersburg to be ideal for its operations....

  13. Florida solar petition reaches key milestone


    A solar petition reached a key milestone Tuesday, with state elections officials certifying enough signatures for the initiative to receive Supreme Court review for the 2016 ballot.

    The state Board of Elections reported that the petition, which would allow those in Florida who generate electricity from the sun to sell that power directly to others, topped 72,000 signatures.

    Floridians for Solar Choice, the sponsor of the initiative, needed 68,314 signatures for the petition drive for the state Supreme Court to determine whether the initiative's language meets legal requirements to appear on the 2016 ballot....

  14. Americans for Prosperity criticizes solar but avoids ballot position


    TALLAHASSEE — Conservative political advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity on Tuesday criticized solar power as an energy source that requires incentives and subsidies but stopped short of opposing a ballot initiative that would allow those in Florida who generate electricity from the sun to sell it directly to others.

    In emails circulated across the state, Americans for Prosperity, founded by David and Charles Koch, has criticized the initiative as a way of using "government and taxpayers to prop up the solar industry."...

  15. Conservative solar proponents decry attack on ballot initiative as 'campaign of deception'


    Conservative solar proponents on Saturday accused Americans For Prosperity of launching a "campaign of deception" against a ballot petition that would allow those in Florida who generate electricity from the sun to sell that power directly to others.

    In a news release Saturday, Conservatives for Energy Freedom, part of a bi-partisan coalition leading the ballot petition, said inaccurate statements have been circulating in e-mails from Americans For Prosperity....