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BUSINESS TODAY

PROGRESS ENERGY SEEKS PSC RULING ON REFUND: Progress Energy Florida Inc. has asked the Florida Public Service Commission to rule on the St. Petersburg utility's dispute with the Office of Public Counsel over the amount it must refund customers as part of a rate-reduction settlement last year. The public counsel says Progress must refund $23.2-million, while the utility argues the proper refund is $4.998-million. In the meantime, Progress customers will receive refunds in their March bills based on the company's calculations. If the PSC eventually rules against Progress in favor of a larger refund, the company will pay the difference to customers later.

INVESTMENT BANK GETS PLANVISTA SHARES: PlanVista Corp. of Tampa said the majority of its outstanding convertible preferred stock and $20.5-million in debt has been acquired by PVC Funding Partners, an affiliate of Commonwealth Associates, and ComVest Venture Partners. The deal reduces PlanVista's bankers' interest in the company and transfers preferred shares _ along with potential control of the company _ into the hands of Commonwealth, a New York City investment bank. Three board seats will change as a result of the deal with Commonwealth, which has experience investing in health care ventures. PlanVista operates a preferred provider network and does medical cost management work for employers and insurers.

VERIZON GETS HIGH COURT HEARING: Verizon Communications Inc. will get a U.S. Supreme Court hearing in its bid to bar retail customers from suing local phone providers for not opening the door to competition. Verizon, six other companies and the Bush administration sought review of a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision permitting the lawsuits. Verizon, the largest American local phone company, says the appeals court decision would put judges and juries in charge of issues that should be decided by regulatory experts. The justices will hear arguments in their term beginning in October and rule by July 2004.

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