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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. 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.
  2. 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:...

    Jose Gonzalez-Diaz, Allegiant Air’s Airbus fleet manager, sits in a $10 million Airbus flight simulator at the airline’s Las Vegas training center. The company is transitioning to an all-Airbus fleet and is slowly retiring its MD-80s. 
  3. 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 Ray Talavara is  accused of removing a memory card.
  4. 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."...

    Wallace Groover, a friend of Reagle’s, stood out as he wore a crossword puzzle-themed tie to the event.
  5. 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)
  6. 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] 
  7. 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....

  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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....

    Tampa-based TECO’s roots in Hillsborough County go back 115 years. Emera is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  11. 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....

  12. 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....

  13. Florida Power proposes cut in electric rate


    Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility with 4.7 million customers, announced Wednesday that it would reduce the average residential electric rate by $2.50 per month starting in January.

    That means each of the state's four investor-owned utilities have proposed lower rates for 2016, savings that are largely driven by lower natural gas prices. FPL also said investments in energy-efficient technology are resulting in savings....

  14. Duke Energy, TECO plan to cut electric rates with fall in fuel prices


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay residents should see their electric rates drop in 2016 because of the falling price of the natural gas generating most of the state's power.

    On Tuesday, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric filed their electric rate proposals for 2016 with state regulators who must approve them after a hearing in November. Since the rate proposals provide cuts for customers, approval is expected....

  15. Aerospace and defense contractor Orbital ATK closing Clearwater facility


    Orbital ATK, a Virginia-based aerospace and defense firm, plans to close a Clearwater manufacturing facility by spring, a decision based at least in part on lessened U.S. defense spending, the company said Monday.

    The closure of the facility at 13133 34th St. N is expected to be completed by April and could result in up to 99 job losses, the company said. Employees were notified in July.

    The facility makes missile- and laser-warning systems for aircraft used by the U.S. military and other nations around the world. Orbital's Clearwater site also makes testing equipment for a variety of weapons systems....