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William R. Levesque, Times Staff Writer

William R. Levesque

William R. Levesque is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience who began working at the Tampa Bay Times in 1994. He covers business news with a focus on energy issues and Florida utilities.

Phone: (813) 226-3432


Twitter: @Times_Levesque

  1. TECO executives will get big paydays if Emera ousts them


    After energy conglomerate Emera Inc. agreed to acquire TECO Energy last month, the company pledged to retain the Tampa-based utility's leadership. But the golden parachutes TECO leaders would get if Emera dismisses them without cause might ease any unkind parting.

    The numbers are relatively paltry by corporate standards. Michael Ovitz, for example, got $130 million after he was dismissed in 1997 as president of Walt Disney Co....

  2. Wesley Chapel medical tech company plans to add 500 jobs


    A Wesley Chapel health care software and services company said it plans on adding 500 jobs after recently securing $18 million from several private equity firms.

    CareSync said this week its "user base" has increased 20-fold in the last four months in response to the company's development of a chronic care management program.

    Up to 400 of those jobs will be nursing jobs based either at the company's Pasco County headquarters or at a nursing call center in Hardee County, said CareSync founder Travis Bond. He said the 500 jobs will have annual salaries ranging from about $35,000 to more than $100,000....

  3. TECO approached six utilities proposing sale


    TAMPA — TECO Energy initially approached just six potential buyers when it decided earlier this year to put the company on the auction block, a document filed with the Security and Exchange Commission shows.

    But after news broke in July that TECO was putting itself up for sale, the Tampa-based utility faced a veritable deluge of inquiries from 13 other parties expressing interest in the "sale process." But none of those apparently decided to enter negotiations....

    TECO Energy President and CEO John Ramil answers questions during a news conference announcing Emera Inc.'s acquisition of TECO Energy Inc. last month at TECO Hall in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT  |  Times]
  4. USF team creates device to recycle human waste into water


    TAMPA — Consider the toilet. Most people don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.

    Even so, that porcelain throne is the deceptively simple starting place of what is, in reality, a remarkably complicated and expensive system that pipes our malodorous waste to some distant spot for its transformation into a harmless byproduct.

    Not something developing nations do well, given the cost....

    Robert Bair, 28, a doctoral student, explains the NEWgenerator to reporters Tuesday. He will monitor it once it is set up in India.
  5. Allegiant Air continues explosive growth despite the bad press



    Black smoke billowing from a jet about to take off from McCarran International Airport. A raging engine fire. Emergency slides deployed. Panicked passengers, some injured, running from the plane.

    It was the sort of horrific scene that turns an airline executive's stomach.

    At Allegiant Air headquarters just a few miles away, executives were thankful nobody died Sept. 8 on that British Airways Boeing 777. For some, there was another thought, too:...

    Passengers board an Allegiant flight at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in 2009. Smaller airports, where costs for things like landing fees and security are relatively cheap, fit Allegiant’s business model.
  6. UPS driver who urinated in truck arrested after removing drug sting camera


    Bobby Ray Talavera said he was just trying to pee into a cup in the back of his UPS truck when he looked up and found himself staring into the lens of a tiny, hidden camera up high on a wall.

    Drivers routinely urinate in their trucks, Talavera said, during busy days with little time to find a restroom.

    Talavera assumed this was a UPS urination sting. Turns out, he wasn't so lucky.

    Talavera, 41, of Plant City was arrested last week by the Polk County Sheriff's Office and charged with misdemeanor theft and tampering with evidence in a joint local and federal investigation in regard to Department of Veterans Affairs narcotics that have been disappearing from UPS trucks....

    Bobby Talavara is a Plant City man arrested on charges of petty theft and tampering with evidence. He is a UPS driver who is accused of stealing the memory card out of a hidden camera in a Polk Sheriff's investigation into who has been stealing VA narcotics shipped by the carrier. Photo courtesy Polk Sheriff's Office.
  7. Friends of crossword great Merl Reagle celebrate his life

    Human Interest


    Superstar crossword creator Merl Reagle once described his puzzles as being a lot like life.

    You start out clueless. You pick up a few words. You learn from mistakes.

    In one of the Carrollwood resident's crossword collections, he said, "You soon discover that everything is connected to everything else. And in the end, it doesn't matter if you have some empty spots as long as it all adds up to something."...

    Marie Haley, Merl Reagle’s widow, listens Sunday as friend Jeffrey Walters reminisces about her husband.
  8. Union: Allegiant Air pilot fired after St. Pete-Clearwater emergency landing


    Allegiant Air fired the pilot of a June 8 flight that made an emergency landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport after reports of smoke in the cabin, accusing him of trying to make the airline look bad, the pilots' union said Friday.

    Allegiant officials declined to discuss the firing, which occurred in late July. But the airline told the Federal Aviation Administration in a report that mechanics could find no defect with the plane....

    A pilots union says an Allegiant Air pilot who made an emergency landing in June at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport was fired. (JIM DAMASKE   |   Times)
  9. More lawsuits challenge TECO merger


    TAMPA — Anyone who wants to mount a court challenge to TECO Energy's merger with Canadian energy conglomerate Emera Inc. better get ready to stand in line.

    So far, a total of five lawsuits have been filed against TECO by shareholders who charge the utility's $10.4 billion merger with Emera Inc. may not have been the best TECO's board of directors could have gotten when it approved it on Sept. 4....

    TECO Energy CEO John Ramil said TECO had received other bids before the Emera deal was announced.  [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times] 
  10. Suit claims TECO sale is a bad deal for shareholders


    TAMPA — A Philadelphia investor in TECO Energy Inc. is asking a Florida court to halt the company's merger with a Canadian energy conglomerate because she thinks the $10.4 billion deal shortchanged shareholders.

    TECO shareholder Rhoda Kanter said in a lawsuit filed last week that TECO's directors, who unanimously approved a merger with Emera Inc. on Sept. 4, "violated their fiduciary duties" by giving preferential treatment to the Canadian utility and by not getting the best price....

  11. Study: Possible link between Camp Lejeune male breast cancer and pollutants


    Federal scientists studying drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said in a new study they have found a "possible association" between pollutants and cases of male breast cancer among those who lived on the Marine Corps base.

    "We observed an accelerated onset of male breast cancer among those stationed at Camp Lejeune compared to other bases," the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said in a study published last week in the journal Environmental Health....

    In this 2008 file photo, Mike Partain holds an April 2007 X-ray showing a 2.5 centimeter cancerous tumor inside his right breast. Partain believes the tumor and several other health conditions he has are a result of exposure to tetrachloroethylene-laden water he ingested in utero and after his birth at Camp Leune, North Carolina.
  12. Buyer of TECO is known as a diverse, rapidly expanding utility


    TAMPA — J.R. Kelly was baffled when he heard late Friday that Canada-based Emera Inc. had agreed to buy the parent company of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.

    "I'm going, 'Emera? Who the heck is that?' " said Kelly, the public counsel whose office represents consumer interests before Florida utility regulators. "I never heard of them."

    Neither, undoubtedly, had many of TECO and Peoples' 1 million customers....

    Tampa Electric Co.’s headquarters are located at 702 N. Franklin St. in downtown Tampa.
  13. Tampa Electric announces its sale to Canadian company Emera


    TAMPA — The parent of Tampa Electric Co. and Peoples Gas announced late Friday it had reached an agreement to sell the Tampa-headquartered utility to Canada-based Emera Inc. in a $10.4 billion transaction.

    The deal by TECO Energy, expected to close by mid 2016, would be one of the largest involving a Tampa Bay company if it is approved by federal authorities. It affects just over 1 million TECO and Peoples customers in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida....

    TECO Plaza, located at 702 N. Franklin in downtown Tampa. The parent of the Tampa Electric Co. and Peoples Gas announced late Friday it has sold the Tampa-based utility to Emera Inc. in a $10.4 billion transaction expected to be closed by mid-2016. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times ]
  14. FAA: Anticollision systems used by Florida aircraft 'unreliable' due to military activity


    The Federal Aviation Administration warned pilots from Key West to Virginia this week that a Navy exercise in coastal waters may make a critical aircraft anticollision system "unreliable" for all of September.

    While the wording of the FAA notice has alarmed some in aviation circles, the FAA said Thursday that the issue poses no safety threat.

    The FAA's notice Tuesday reminded pilots of a fail-safe tool they can always use to detect other aircraft — their eyeballs....

  15. TECO ending energy program state says was not cost effective


    TAMPA — Tampa Electric is closing out a program that paid customers to let the utility interrupt electricity flowing to energy hogs like central air-conditioners or water heaters whenever TECO was in an energy pinch.

    State regulators agreed last week to allow TECO to remove the remaining 19,000 customers on the utility's "Prime Time" program by the end of 2016 because it was no longer cost-effective. And TECO noted the technology the program uses is obsolete and difficult to replace....