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. Duke Energy says it erred in back-billing over meter malfunction


    After discovering it wrongly charged a local company nearly $10,000, Duke Energy Florida is reviewing the bills of hundreds of customers who were "back-billed" for charges the utility said it was owed because of malfunctioning meters.

    Duke initially told Oasis Refreshment Systems Inc. of Largo that a review of its account found the company's electric meter failed to operate properly from June 2013 to May....

  2. Duke charges were set to reach more than $2.6 million in overbilling


    Charges to Duke Energy Florida customers were set to reach more than $2.6 million in overbilling before the utility halted the fees that resulted from an "unintended consequence" of changes to its meter reading system.

    Duke stopped the charges after reports in the Tampa Bay Times showed that as many as 165,000 customers were bumped into a higher rate tier because the company added days to their billing cycles during the revamping of its meter reading routes....

  3. Renewable energy coalition to push for more solar in Florida


    Solar proponents announced Wednesday a new coalition that will push for increased use of renewable energy in Florida.

    The coalition includes three major renewable and clean energy organizations: the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association and the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, industry groups, and the nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

    The organizations say Florida laws and the state's investor-owned utilities have hampered the growth of solar power in the Sunshine State....

  4. City leader, environmentalist help develop Arctic excursion to include 15 Pinellas residents


    Want an arctic sailing adventure? Hoping to learn more about global warming and climate change?

    The Institute on Science for Global Policy, based in Tucson, Ariz., has chosen St. Petersburg and a handful of other U.S. cities to participate in a summer expedition in 2016 to learn more about the effects of climate change.

    St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice and Susan Glickman, of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, are part of the team developing the project....

  5. PSC will audit Duke Energy's handling of extended billing charges but suggests all is well


    TALLAHASSEE — The chairman of the state Public Service Commission ordered an audit of Duke Energy Florida's handling of changes to its meter-reading routes and promised a review of the policy that led to extra charges on some customers' bills while the utility revamped its system.

    The billing issue angered many Duke Energy customers in recent weeks, prompting a flood of concerned calls to this newspaper, a Duke apology, and enough outcry to state legislators to prompt Thursday's PSC meeting....

    PSC Chairman Art Graham thinks Duke has resolved the issue.
  6. TECO closes on purchase of New Mexico gas company


    Tampa-based TECO Energy on Tuesday completed a $950 mil­lion purchase of a New Mexico gas company, bolstering its customer base by more than 500,000 — or 50 percent.

    TECO's acquisition of Albuquerque-based New Mexico Gas Intermediate is the largest purchase by the Tampa Bay area power company. TECO owns Tampa Electric, which provides power to 700,000 Tampa Bay area customers, and Peoples Gas, which serves 350,000 customers across Florida....

  7. Angry Duke Energy customers look to Tallahassee for help


    The list is long. Too long.

    Dozens of calls and emails, all with similar customer complaints about Duke Energy Florida.

    Never had these ratepayers seen their electric bills as high as they did this month. $250. $488. $573.75.

    Stacey Blais of Clearwater wrote to say her August bill had reached $749.10.

    "I for one am outraged by my high energy bill, which has doubled since last year's bill," Blais said in an email. "I have been so upset about these high bills that I get ill and stressed out just thinking about it."...

  8. Apologetic Duke Energy will credit customers overcharged in meter issues


    Duke Energy Florida announced Wednesday that it would issue a credit to customers adversely affected by a change to its meter reading system that led the utility to charge higher electricity rates to some customers.

    "We apologize for any hardships and confusion we have caused our customers, and we will make this right," said Alex Glenn, state president of Duke Energy Florida. "We will continue to work with impacted customers until all credits have been issued. We are also taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again."...

    Duke Energy Florida says it is going to credit customers who were charged at higher rates due to longer billing periods, the result of a change in meter-reading routes.
  9. Duke apologizes for meter troubles, prepares remedies for overcharged customers


    Duke Energy Florida is reviewing options to help customers adversely affected by changes in its meter-reading system and may have an announcement as early as today about possible remedies.

    "As we have said for the last week, we have heard from our customers, legislators and the Public Service Commission and apologize for the unintended consequences that have resulted in some customers having higher bills," said Sterling Ivey, a Duke spokesman....

  10. In flip-flop, Duke Energy will buy existing power plant, not build one


    TALLAHASSEE — In a major reversal, Duke Energy Florida said Tuesday that it agreed to buy an existing, independent natural gas plant in Polk County and withdraw its proposal to build $190 million in peak power units of its own in 2016.

    The proposed agreement with Calpine Finance Construction Co. would allow Duke Energy to purchase the 10-year-old Osprey natural gas plant in the Auburndale area of Polk County. Details of the surprising deal were not yet disclosed, and its impact on ratepayers remained unclear during the first of two days of hearings held at the Florida Public Service Commission....

    The effect on customers from Duke Energy Florida’s decision to buy the Osprey natural gas plant in Polk County is not known.
  11. Duke Energy considering Pinellas land for solar farm


    ST. PETERSBURG — Duke Energy is exploring sites for a solar farm in Pinellas County.

    The energy company is looking for privately or publicly owned properties throughout its Florida service territory that could accommodate fields of solar panels that would feed power to the grid, company spokesman Sterling Ivey said.

    The Pinellas site being considered is about 22 acres of county-owned land off 119th Street between Ulmerton and Walsingham roads. The parcel is a former landfill adjacent to Heritage Village, the County Extension Office and the Florida Botanical Gardens. ...

  12. Under rising pressure, state utility regulator to call Duke Energy in to justify rate charges


    Responding to mounting pressure from state lawmakers, the chairman of the Public Service Commission on Friday said he is asking Duke Energy Florida to appear before regulators to address what some are calling an "unfair, unreasonable and unfairly discriminatory" rate practice.

    In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, PSC Chairman Art Graham said he wants answers from Duke about the impact of charging some customers higher rates while the utility revamps its meter-reading process....

  13. TECO electric rates to drop a bit


    Tampa Electric residential customers could see their rates dip by 1 percent beginning Jan. 1, if state regulators approve a proposed fuel cost plan the utility filed Friday.

    The Tampa-based power company said in a statement that projections in its filing with the state Public Service Commission show the average customer would pay $108.39 a month based on 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage or $1.22 less than current rates....

  14. State Sen. Latvala says Duke's billing strategy not 'moral,' urges reversal of additional fees


    Urging Duke to act as a "good corporate citizen," Pinellas County's most powerful state lawmaker called on the utility Thursday to abandon the idea of charging customers higher rates while it revamps its meter-reading process.

    Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said angry Duke customers contacted his office in the past couple of days, asking for someone to reel in a utility they see as incessantly taking advantage of ratepayers....

  15. Pegram out as GM at WFTS Channel 28


    Richard "Rich" Pegram III, vice president and general manager of ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa, left his post Wednesday after seven years on the job.

    Pegram, 63, led WFTS Channel 28 as it surged in ratings in recent years. He joined WFTS after 26 years with top NBC affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis and CBS affiliate WTVR in Richmond, Va.

    WFTS Channel 28 is owned and operated by E. W. Scripps Co., a media conglomerate that includes such properties as HGTV, the Food Network and various ABC and CBS affiliate TV stations. A recent spinoff contains the company's daily and community newspapers....