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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. 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....

  2. 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 ]
  3. 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.
  4. 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....

  5. 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.
  6. 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....

  7. 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....

  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Odd coalition prepares to pressure lawmakers on solar power


    Conservative solar proponents to Florida lawmakers: Where do you stand on support for rooftop solar?

    Grass roots Republicans said they intend to get lawmakers on the record about their positions on solar as part of a growing campaign of town hall talks and petitions for a ballot initiative to change Florida energy policy.

    The campaign seeks to loosen the investor owned utilities' monopoly grip on the state's electricity production. Solar proponents say the utilities' control over energy and their influence in Tallahassee is blocking development of solar in the Sunshine State and leaving consumers without choice....

  11. Lawmaker joins calls for repeal of nuclear advance fee with new bill


    State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, this week filed legislation to repeal the so-called nuclear advance fee that allowed Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light to collect money from their customers before new plants come online.

    Ahern's legislation is the third bill filed for the 2015 session aimed at ending the fee. The measure largely targets Duke Energy over its troubled nuclear operations detailed in reports by the Tampa Bay Times. ...

  12. Gulf Power, military propose state's largest network of solar power plants


    Florida's smallest investor-owned utility is proposing to build the state's largest network of solar power plants as part of an agreement reached with the U.S. military.

    Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Georgia-based Southern Co., announced a proposal Thursday to build a total of 120 megawatts of utility-scale solar power at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Holley Field in Navarre and Saufley Field in Pensacola. The joint effort among Gulf Power, the Navy, Air Force and HelioSage, the project's developer, will help meet the U.S. Department of Defense's goal of achieving 25 percent renewable energy by 2025....

  13. Rep. Dwight Dudley files legislation to keep Florida utilities from charging customers for fracking investments


    A bill filed in the state Legislature Tuesday would prohibit Florida utilities from charging customers for investment in fracking operations.

    Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, filed the measure in response to a recent ruling by the Florida Public Service Commission that will allow Florida Power & Light to collect $191 million from ratepayers to invest in an Oklahoma fracking project....

  14. Bill would prohibit Florida utilities from charging for fracking


    A bill filed in the state Legislature Tuesday would prohibit Florida utilities from charging customers for investment in fracking operations.

    Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, filed the measure in response to a recent ruling by the Florida Public Service Commission that will allow Florida Power & Light to collect $191 million from ratepayers to invest in an Oklahoma fracking project.

    In March, the PSC will decide whether to allow FPL to expand the effort. Duke Energy has expressed interest in exploring similar proposals....

    Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, said that power companies only care about profit.
  15. Sen. Jeff Brandes files legislation to reduce taxes on solar power systems


    A St. Petersburg lawmaker announced Tuesday the filing of a bill that would reduce the taxes on solar power systems for businesses that install them at their facilities.

    The legislation by State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would expand existing law for residential solar installations to include commercial property. The bill would reduce the real estate or personal property tax for solar installations and exempts devices that produce renewable energy from tangible property tax....