Mostly Cloudy69° WeatherMostly Cloudy69° Weather

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. Florida utility regulator Lisa Edgar takes helm of national association


    SAN FRANCISCO — A Florida regulator on Monday became the first from the Sunshine State to serve as head of the 125-year-old National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, a nonprofit organization that includes more than 200 officials from throughout the United States and its territories.

    The NARUC elected Lisa Edgar, the longest-serving member of the Florida Public Service Commission, for the one-year post during its annual meeting here. The president of NARUC runs its meetings, which provide education about utility issues, and represents the regulators in major presentations such as testimony before Congress....

    Florida Public Service Commissioner Lisa Edgar, center, arrives at a private reception for registered attendees of the NARUC annual meeting that included regulators and industry representatives at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco on Sunday.
  2. Lockheed Martin to join growing solar presence in Tampa Bay


    While Florida utilities continue to argue that solar panels on rooftops and over parking don't make economic sense, the business and government communities seem to think otherwise.

    The latest: Lockheed Martin plans to build a large-scale solar system at its Pinellas County facility, joining Great Bay Beer Distributors, Tampa International Airport, C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center and James A. Haley VA Medical Center....

  3. PSC staff backs utilities' proposal to gut energy-efficiency goals


    State Public Service Commission staffers largely backed proposals by Florida's utilities to gut their energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent in recommendations released Thursday, a moved that angered environmentalists.

    In a more-than-100-page filing, the commission's staff members presented their analysis of the hotly debated utility proposals, which also include elimination of rebates for installation of rooftop solar....

  4. One-month spike in electric bill angers Duke Energy customer


    GULFPORT — Ralph Bassett's electric bill typically runs about $120 a month, every month, winter and summer.

    Bassett runs his two-story, 1920s wood-frame home as a model of efficiency: LED lightbulbs, dimmer switches, a tankless water heater, a clothesline for drying most of the wash.

    So when Bassett's bill spiked in July to $256, he called Duke Energy Florida and got what he thought were unsatisfactory replies....

    Ralph Bassett questions how his electric bill more than doubled in July to $256.79, when he has no air conditioner and uses this type of tankless water heater.
  5. Mark Wilson taking over for father, John Wilson, as evening anchor at Fox 13


    After several years working together, Fox 13 anchor Mark Wilson will take over for his father, evening news anchor John Wilson, when he retires Nov. 26.

    "Over the years, I've seen how Dad put his family and community first over himself, passing up several opportunities over the years to leave and go elsewhere," Mark Wilson said. "I grew up with an appreciation for the community."

    The announcement came Wednesday evening just hours after John Wilson and retiring News Channel 8 anchor Gayle Sierens were honored at a gathering of more than 150 local media celebrities, politicians and community leaders....

    John Wilson, 73, left, and Mark Wilson, 45, have worked together at Fox 13 since 1997.
  6. Protesters bring 'pitchfork protest' to Duke Energy Florida's headquarters


    ST. PETERSBURG — With both real and toy pitchforks, a crowd of about 150 vented their frustration with Duke Energy Florida on Wednesday in a park just yards from the utility's downtown headquarters.

    The "Pitchfork Protest" in Williams Park drew one of the largest gatherings to date against Duke for failed nuclear ambitions that are costing its customers billions of dollars; lack of support for rooftop solar power; billing mishaps; and overcharges of churches and small businesses....

    Mary Wilkerson of Indian Rocks Beach waves her signs during the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's "pitchfork protest" outside of Duke Energy Florida headquarters Wednesday in downtown St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  7. Duke Energy, Southern Alliance tighten security ahead of 'Pitchfork Protest'


    Concerned about security at a "Pitchfork Protest" planned for Wednesday outside Duke Energy Florida headquarters, the utility and the event's organizers have hired off-duty police officers to oversee safety.

    The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a Tennessee-based nonprofit environmental organization, hopes to bring hundreds to protest Duke's treatment of its customers in recent years.

    Protesters plan to wield pitchforks and torches like it's 1785....

  8. Crowd turns out to protest Duke billing practices


    NEW PORT RICHEY — More than 100 Duke Energy Florida customers turned out to a town hall meeting Thursday, asking how to best challenge the utility that changed billing cycles and charged them for a nuclear plant that never came.

    Focus on the Legislature, said two former state senators.

    "Shame on all of you if you don't, between now and the next legislative session, if you don't make an appointment to go see your legislator," said former state Sen. Mike Fasano, now the Pasco County tax collector....

  9. Regulators approve cut in Tampa Electric rates


    State regulators approved requests by Tampa Electric to lower its residential customers' rates by an average of $1.14 to $108.47 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours beginning Jan. 1.

    Commercial and industrial customers' rates will drop by 1.7 percent and 3 percent, respectively, under the proposals approved by the Public Service Commission.

    Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, sought a decrease in its rates as a result of lower fuel and other electricity production costs....

  10. Group offers cash, free dinner to Duke Energy protesters


    Still hoping for a refund from Duke Energy Florida for the $3.45 its customers pay each month for a nuclear plant the utility decided not to build?

    Don't expect Duke to fork over the money.

    But the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is offering at least 500 Duke customers what the utility has not: Show your electric bill at a scheduled "pitchfork" protest at noon Oct. 29 outside the power company's St. Petersburg headquarters and get $3.45 or a free box lunch....

    Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano
  11. TECO Energy announces agreement to sell its coal mining operations


    Tampa-based TECO Energy announced an agreement Monday to sell its coal subsidiary in a $170 million deal that is expected to close by the end of the year.

    TECO, the parent company of Tampa Electric, said Cambrian Coal Corp. agreed to purchase the coal operation, which includes coal production facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

    Cambrian is part of the Booth Energy Group, a company that produces coal using the underground and surface mining methods in the central Appalachia coal fields of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia....

    CEO John Ramil says the sale will complete TECO’s return to its core businesses.
  12. Duke Energy Florida irks churches, businesses with unnecessarily high bills


    First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks wasn't saving as much as it could.

    This wasn't about souls. It was about something more earthly: electric bills and money.

    The trouble was Duke Energy Florida and its predecessors kept the church on a higher rate than necessary, as the utility has with many of its other business customers. In addition, some churches such as First Baptist and other nonprofits have been charged taxes, though they are tax-exempt....

    JC Ryan’s Image First health care laundry business has been saving $700 to $800 a month in electric costs since April after a consultant found it could get a better rate from Duke Energy.
  13. Tea party pushing for Florida to step up solar energy efforts


    Florida's investor-owned utilities have a new, unexpected opponent: the tea party.

    Debbie Dooley, co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, plans to push for more solar in the Sunshine State as she has in Georgia. Her ultimate goal is to challenge the monopoly control of Florida's major utilities.

    This month, the Georgia resident launched the group Conservatives for Energy Freedom, with the first chapter in Florida. ...

    Debbie Dooley says Republicans should be leading the way for solar energy in Florida.
  14. Lawmaker proposes legislation to ensure businesses receive cheapest utility rate


    Duke Energy Florida's non-residential customers don't always get the rate that will result in the cheapest bill.

    Businesses can choose a rate based in part on the time of day the company uses the most electricity.

    Experts in utility rate-making say some Duke business customers — including churches — don't realize they can get their electricity for less, and Duke doesn't automatically give the cheapest rate....

    Dwight Dudley wants “greater ethics” from Duke Energy.
  15. Protesters call on Gov. Rick Scott to return $1.2 million in campaign donations from Duke Energy


    Standing with a giant caricature posing as Gov. Rick Scott, about a four-dozen protesters gathered outside the governor’s St. Petersburg campaign office and called on him to return $1.2 million in donations from Duke Energy.

    The group, led by billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate political committee, called the donations to Scott “dirty money” that they aruge was wrongfully taken from Duke ratepayers for nuclear projects that never materialized....

    A caricature of Gov. Rick Scott that appeared at a protest Thursday in St. Petersburg.