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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


Twitter: @Consumers_Edge

  1. 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....

  2. 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....

  3. 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....

  4. 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."...

  5. 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....

  6. Consumer advocates say Duke Energy trying to collect more money


    In a filing late Thursday, consumer advocates state that Duke Energy Florida is positioning itself to collect more money from customers by seeking to change past orders regarding the canceled Levy County nuclear plant.

    Led by the state Office of Public Counsel, the advocates state in a 10-page filing with the Public Service Commission that Duke's proposal to regulators on Monday turned a simple, expected ending of charges for Levy into an attempt to "improperly" reverse millions in customer credits....

  7. Duke Energy proposal could cost customers more in the long run


    Duke Energy Florida on Monday said it wants to suspend most of the remaining nuclear charge on customers' bills for the canceled Levy County nuclear plant until it resolves a half-billion lawsuit over the project's contract.

    The proposal would give customers at least temporary relief from a $3.45 charge on the average bill each month, beginning around June 1, about six months earlier than expected....

  8. Utilities: Pulling the plug on passivity


    LAST FALL, CRITICS of Duke Energy Florida rallied protesters at a demonstration by shouting, "If you're not mad, you're not paying attention."

    Tampa Bay area lawmakers say they have now taken note of the utility's troubles and practices in recent years, and they are more than angry.

    So angry that they have drafted a series of measures aimed at Duke and the state Public Service Commission, which regulates the utility, in hopes of reining in both and offering consumers some protection. "I'm mad as heck and I'm not going to take it anymore," Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said in September as he began contemplating legislation....

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]
  9. Sen. Brandes files solar energy bill; solar coalition opposes it


    State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, has filed legislation that would allow those who generate electricity from solar power to sell it directly to others.

    Brandes' bill, which is similar to a ballot petition being circulated by a pro-solar coalition, also would allow utility companies to install rooftop solar panels on businesses and sell that electricity to those customers without regulators' approval....

    State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said he was unaware of concerns about the effects of his bill.
  10. Senate bills targeting utilities, PSC win committee support


    TALLAHASSEE – A Senate committee gave support Tuesday for two measures that seek to make the Public Service Commission more consumer-friendly and to guard electricity customers from some utility billing practices.

    One bill, by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, would prohibit utilities from charging customers higher rates for higher usage as a result of extended billing periods, and would limit how much utilities can charge their customers for deposits....

  11. Florida solar coalition collects 100,000 signatures for petition


    Solar proponents plan to announce today that they collected 100,000 signatures in the first month of a state petition drive to allow those who generate electricity from the sun to sell the power directly to other consumers.

    Floridians for Solar Choice — an unusual coalition of tea party and Christian Coalition conservatives as well as Libertarians, liberal environmentalists and retailers — has scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference in Tallahassee, in which more groups from across the political spectrum are expected to join the coalition....

    Tory Perfetti, director of Floridians for Solar Choice, needs 683,149 signatures.
  12. Conservatives launch series of town halls on solar power and 'energy choice'


    ST. PETERSBURG — Dozens of solar proponents gathered at the Sunshine Center Tuesday night to voice concerns about Duke Energy and call for more rooftop solar in Florida during the first of a series of town hall meetings planned across the state.

    Conservatives for Energy Freedom have dubbed the series of town hall meetings the "Energy Choice Listening Tour." Tuesday night they heard an earful....

  13. Lockheed Martin awards $5 million contract for solar array


    Lockheed awards $5M solar project contract

    Lockheed Martin has awarded a $5 million contract for a canopy-style solar array over the parking lot of its Pinellas County operation that is expected to meet up to 60 percent of the facility's energy demand.

    South Florida-based Advanced Green Technologies won the contract to build the 2 megawatt solar power system at the Lockheed facility in the 3600 block of Tampa Road in Oldsmar, said Jonathan Poggi, a Lockheed Martin facilities manager....

  14. Florida utilities say solar doesn't work in the Sunshine State, but it sure does in Georgia


    The Sunshine State is losing its shine to something peachy.

    While Florida energy policy impedes solar power development, Georgia promotes it: The Peach State, with a population half that of its neighbor to the south, expects to reach 900 megawatts of solar power generation by the end of 2016, almost twice Florida's projected total by that time.

    "Georgia is going to wind up being a state that everyone looks toward," said Ken Johnson, a vice president and spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C. He said the reason why Georgia is emerging as a solar-power leader is that regulators and utilities have embraced solar as part of the solution for energy demand rather than rejecting it as not cost-effective....

    Debbie Dooley helped push Georgia to adopt solar-friendly policies. She sees “energy freedom” as one of the benefits of using solar power.
  15. FPL proposes to almost double Florida's solar power by end of 2016


    Florida's largest investor owned utility announced plans Monday to build three new solar farms that would nearly double the state's solar capacity.

    In its announcement, Florida Power & Light said it had found a "cost-effective" way to expand solar power in Florida and proposed to install the systems at three sites in its service area. The utility proposes to add 225 megawatts of solar to the state's current 229 megawatts by the end of next year in Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties....

    President Barack Obama, with DeSoto construction manager Greg Bove, center, and then-Florida Power and Light CEO Lewis Hay, tours the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia in 2009. FPL plans to build three solar farms that would nearly double the state’s capacity.