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

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  1. Jack Latvala and other lawmakers have strong words for Duke Energy

    Energy

    Lawmakers fired some of their harshest criticism at Duke Energy Florida Tuesday, promising legislation that could ban political contributions from utilities and end some "unconscionable" billing practices.

    Led by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, Pinellas County's most powerful legislator, several Republican lawmakers and political candidates gathered for a news conference at a Sonny's Bar-B-Q in Largo to highlight what they said was the latest example of abuse by Duke....

    Duke has been collecting $3.2 billion from its 1.7 million Florida customers for two failed nuclear projects with much of the money paid through the "nuclear advance fee''. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  2. Duke Energy Florida under increasing fire during pivotal week

    Energy

    In a pivotal week for Duke Energy Florida, state lawmakers are targeting the utility with a series of proposals to bolster consumer protection and prevent unbridled spending of ratepayer dollars.

    State Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, on Monday announced the latest effort that would end the increasingly controversial "nuclear advance fee" that allows utilities to collect from ratepayers for new plants before they produce power....

    Duke has been collecting $3.2 billion from its 1.7 million Florida customers for two failed nuclear projects with much of the money paid through the "nuclear advance fee''. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  3. Senator wants $54 million credited to Duke Energy customers, threatens legislation

    Energy

    Tampa Bay area lawmakers urged state regulators Friday to order a $54 million credit to Duke Energy Florida customers for nuclear components the utility bought for the canceled Levy County nuclear plant that were never produced.

    In a letter to the Public Service Commission, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said any delay in returning the money to customers as requested by consumer advocates is "unacceptable."...

    “PSC has served as little more than a rubber stamp for the investor-owned utilities.”
Dwight Dudley, 
D-St. Petersburg
  4. PSC staff sides with Duke in recommending against $54 million credit for customers

    Energy

    Consumer advocates thought it was a just action on the part of state regulators: Order Duke Energy Florida to refund customers $54 million for nuclear components the utility bought for the canceled Levy County nuclear plant that were never produced.

    It's a small portion of the $1.5 billion that angry customers are paying for the defunct project, but a credit nonetheless.

    Duke wants customers to get the credit — but only if the company can win back the money in a lawsuit against the contractor. Until then, Duke says, regulators should not take any action....

  5. Crystal River nuclear plant tools and equipment go for 'pennies on the dollar' at auction

    Energy

    CRYSTAL RIVER — Ross Dove begins the bidding just after 10 a.m.

    "It is the appointed hour," Dove announces. "The assets are formally on the auction block."

    One million items in more than 3,000 lots. Total value, according to Duke Energy Florida: $100 million.

    The products — including a Micro Vu Optical Comparator and Digital Thermocouples — would be a mystery, and of no use, to most of the utility's 1.7 million customers. But they paid for them all and have a financial interest in the outcome....

    The auction will feature unused equipment as well as surplus and used inventory and machinery.  (MATTHEW BECK  |  Citrus County Chronicle)

  6. Duke Energy plans to help on L.A. wind farm project — but what about Florida?

    Energy

    Duke Energy announced plans Tuesday for the nation's largest wind farm and energy storage system in the western United States, prompting questions about whether the utility should offer major clean energy projects in Florida and the East Coast.

    Duke-American Transmission, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, would join three other companies to create the $8 billion project that would produce twice as much electricity as the Hoover Dam. The system would power 1.2 million homes in the Los Angeles area by 2023 if federal, state and local regulators approve the project....

    This wind farm sits on a bluff above Wallula in southern Washington state near the Columbia River. Could a wind project be in Florida's future? [Steve Ringman/Seattle Times/MCT]
  7. Duke Energy set to auction off a million items from shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant

    Energy

    It's one of the most unusual auctions of the year, akin to putting a nuclear plant on eBay.

    Duke Energy Florida plans to sell 1 million items from the shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant live and online from Wednesday to Friday next week.

    Need a giant heat exchanger that looks like giant pipes aboard a Navy ship — large enough for a grown man to crawl through?

    How about 3-ton chain hoist? Or a 30-foot, 120,000-pound trailer?...

    Sets of tools from the Crystal River nuclear plant will be up for auction.
  8. Gov. Scott names appointments to fill two openings on Public Service Commission

    Energy

    Gov. Rick Scott announced his two picks for open seats on the state Public Service Commission on Thursday, including one reappointment of a Tampa lawyer.

    The Senate still must confirm the appointments of existing Commissioner Julie Brown, 39, who first joined the PSC in 2011, and state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, 42, of Panama City, who is vice president of Captain Anderson's Restaurant.

    Patronis would fill a seat vacated by Eduardo Balbis, who announced in May that he would not seek reappointment....

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

    Energy

    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....

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

    Energy

    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....

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

    Energy

    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....

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

    Energy

    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....

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

    Energy

    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.
  14. TECO closes on purchase of New Mexico gas company

    Energy

    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....

  15. Angry Duke Energy customers look to Tallahassee for help

    Energy

    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."...

    Smart meter, isolated on white.