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 shrinks meter reader routes, temporarily fattens some bills


    Marie Cox is paying extra in her Duke Energy Florida bill this month.

    It's not of her choosing. It's not because she's using more electricity than she typically does this time of year.

    She's paying more because Duke is reorganizing the way it reads meters. As a result, Duke is temporarily extending its billing cycle, typically a month, by as many as 12 extra days. Here's how it affects customers:...

  2. Billionaire environmentalist's group stages rally at Duke Energy's Florida headquarters


    Billionaire Tom Steyer took his message of disenfranchised utility ratepayers to the streets Thursday with the launch of a new grass roots coalition to campaign against Gov. Rick Scott.

    About three dozen people quietly gathered in the drizzling rain outside Duke Energy's St. Petersburg headquarters for the inaugural effort of the group Floridians for Fair Rates, an organization led by Steyer's political group NextGen Climate....

    St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse speaks during the inaugural event of the group Floridians for Fair Rates. [Ivan Penn  |  Times]
  3. Duke, always hungry to build, says existing plants aren't viable


    AUBURNDALE — The power plant is a decade old but in no way shows its age.

    "It looks brand new, doesn't it?" said John Flumerfelt, an executive at Calpine Construction Finance Co., during a recent tour of the facility. "Shipshape."

    His description is apt. Run by a 23-member crew that includes old Navy veterans, the plant shows like a well-tended ship. It is a highly efficient combined-cycle generator fueled by natural gas. Calpine built the "merchant plant" to sell power to public utilities. ...

    Calpine’s 10-year-old power plant in Auburndale.
  4. Political ad attacks Scott for failing to stop Duke's nuclear charges


    Duke Energy's failed nuclear ambitions became political fodder in the gubernatorial race Friday with an attack ad blasting Gov. Rick Scott for doing nothing to stop the utility from charging customers for its blunders.

    It was the first time that Duke's troubles entered into a statewide political fray.

    The ad, airing in the bay area and sponsored by NextGen Climate Action Committee, points to reports from the Tampa Bay Times about the $3.2 billion customers are paying for the botched upgrade at the now-shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant and canceled Levy County nuclear project....

    The ad, sponsored by NextGen Climate Action Committee, points to reports from the Tampa Bay Times about the $3.2 billion customers are paying for the botched upgrade at the now shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant and the canceled Levy County nuclear project. [DIRK SHADD | Times (2012)]
  5. $54 million consumer refund sought for Duke's canceled nuclear project


    Consumer advocates want Duke Energy Florida to refund $54 million the utility collected from customers for nuclear equipment that was never purchased.

    The advocates asked state regulators Monday to order Duke to give a credit in this year's bills for equipment the utility sought for the now canceled Levy County nuclear project.

    Duke paid the money to its then-contractor Westinghouse Electric Co., but the equipment was never purchased....

  6. TECO Energy reports increase in second-quarter earnings


    TECO Energy's second-quarter earnings rose, thanks in part to customer growth and settlement of state rate cases.

    The Tampa-based parent of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas reported net income of $58.4 million, or $0.27 per share, compared with $51.4 million, or $0.24 per share, in the second quarter of 2013. Net income from continuing operations was also $58.4 million in the 2014 second quarter, compared with $51.6 million, or $0.24 per share, for the same period in 2013....

  7. Report: Duke Energy Florida ranks in top third for energy efficiency


    Duke Energy Florida might not do so well in the future, but the company ranked in the top third for energy efficiency among utilities in a recent study.

    In a report this week by Ceres, a nonprofit organization that provides statistics about energy efficiency and renewable energy, Duke's Florida operation placed 22nd out of 65 subsidiaries of the nation's largest power companies.

    Duke Energy Florida ranked second among Duke's properties for total energy-efficiency savings as a percentage of annual retail sales....

  8. Lower energy conservation goals will protect ratepayers, utilities tell PSC


    TALLAHASSEE — It might seem a stretch, but Florida utilities this week billed themselves as a friend of the poor and the common man.

    As such, they pressed the state Public Service Commission over the past three days to abandon a pilot program that offered rebates for residential and commercial solar panels that they argued benefit a few at the expense of the many. And they said they are designing efficiency programs to guard against consumers known as "free riders," who take advantage of energy-saving programs that they already would pursue without inducements from utilities....

  9. Protest, ad campaign target proposals to cut Florida's conservation goals


    TALLAHASSEE — In a rare scene at state regulatory hearings, more than 100 protesters from across the state gathered outside the Public Service Commission on Monday to oppose proposals by Florida's utilities to reduce their energy conservation goals.

    Chanting "Clean Energy Now!" and waving placards calling for more solar power and energy efficiency, the protesters criticized the commission for refusing to allow them to speak during hearings on the utilities' proposals....

    Ennis Leon Jacobs, a former chairman of the PSC, was among the protesters. "Unfortunately, Florida has chosen the worst time possible to turn back the clock," he said of the energy efficiency proposals. "We should be looking for alternative, feasible options." [IVAN PENN   |   Times]
  10. Utilities will ask PSC for permission to gut energy-saving goals


    Florida's big public utilities spend very little on energy conservation. On Monday, they will ask state regulators for permission to spend even less.

    The state's energy future depends almost exclusively on construction of expensive new power plants, the utilities argued in preparation for the Public Service Commission hearing and in their previous public statements.

    The utilities see little merit in any other strategy....

    Florida's largest electric utilities say energy-saving programs are not cost efficient and solar power is not reliable. They say the solution for the state's energy needs is building more power plants.
  11. Consumer advocate seeks $54 million refund for Duke Energy customers


    Florida's consumer advocate wants Duke Energy to refund $54 million the utility collected from its customers to purchase parts for the now-canceled Levy County nuclear project.

    The state Office of Public Counsel filed a request with the Public Service Commission on Wednesday, asking regulators to require Duke to refund the money.

    The public counsel's request is tied to a lawsuit Duke filed against the contractor of the $24.7 billion Levy project, Westinghouse Electric Co....

  12. Duke Energy to hold open house about proposed Crystal River natural gas plant


    Duke Energy Florida plans to hold a free open house July 10 for the public to receive information about the proposed natural gas plant the utility wants to build in Citrus County.

    The informal presentation will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Plantation on Crystal River Magnolia Room, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail in Crystal River. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about the $1.5 billion project and the combined-cycle natural gas technology proposed for the plant....

  13. 'A small number' of Bright House customers experience email disruption


    Bright House Networks and its owner, Time Warner, are experiencing problems with the service, preventing some customers from accessing their email.

    Joe Durkin, a Bright House spokesman, said "it's a small number of customers" that have been affected for at least the last two days. He said the national Road Runner email system has been affected by the problem, which the company expected to fix by Friday afternoon....

  14. SunTrust bank agrees to pay $300,000 to settle sexual harassment lawsuit


    SunTrust bank has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by three female employees against a manager at a Tampa Bay area branch.

    According to the lawsuits filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the manager of a Sarasota branch repeatedly subjected the women to verbal and physical harassment.

    The alleged incidents involving the manager included trapping a 20-year-old female behind the teller counter with his body; telling a woman she should wear a bathing suit to work; regularly staring at women's breasts; and frequently caressing and grabbing a female employee....

    SunTrust bank has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by three female employees against a manager at a Tampa Bay area branch. [Times files (2011)]
  15. Real estate financing firm looks to cut 80 percent of electric bill with solar, energy efficiency


    TAMPA — Four years ago, Doug McCree couldn't imagine fulfilling his employees' wishes for covered parking.

    But when a business associate prodded him to explore putting a solar canopy over the parking lot, wishful thinking turned hopeful. Solar developers proposed a plan combined with energy efficiency measures that would reduce the company's electric bill by more than 80 percent.

    On Monday, McCree, the president and CEO of First Housing Development Corp. of Florida, fired up a new solar and net zero energy system on its 17,000-square-foot, 8-year-old facility at 107 S Willow Ave....

    First Housing Development Corp. of Florida turned its Tampa building into a net zero energy building with solar panels, air conditioning monitoring system and LED bulbs. The project is expected to reduce its annual electric bill from $36,000 to $6,000.