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Times Wire
Published April 28, 2004

FUEL-CELL CARS HIT THE ROAD: Progress Energy Florida and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will have use of hydrogen fuel-cell cars as part of a U.S. Department of Energy initiative to encourage the development of hydrogen power and fuel-cell technologies. Ford Motor Co. will provide Progress and the DEP early next year with up to 10 Ford Focus sedans powered by fuel-cell systems, and BP PLC will set up fueling stations for the cars. The cars will be used by meter readers and energy efficiency experts at Progress' operations center in Longwood and by DEP park rangers at Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka. Progress and DEP will have use of the vehicles until 2008.

WRB BUYS DOMINICA UTILITY: WRB Enterprises Inc. of Tampa said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire a majority interest in Dominica Electricity Services Ltd. from CDC Group PLC of Britain. WRB said it expects the deal to close May 7. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Dominica Electricity Services is the sole electric utility on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica. WRB also owns and operates electric utilities in Grenada and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

HILL & KNOWLTON IN TALLAHASSEE: Hill & Knowlton, which has its Florida headquarters in Tampa, is opening an office Saturday in Tallahassee. Gene Reineke, Hill & Knowlton's chief operating officer, who works in Washington, said the public relations agency is expanding into capitals of states that reflect "bellwether trends" in both business and politics. The Tallahassee office, which will be the agency's 70th location, reflects both Florida's growth and its increasing role in national politics, he said.

PSC STAFF FAVORS RATE INCREASE: Its staff has recommended that the Florida Public Service Commission uphold its unanimous vote in December allowing Verizon, Sprint and BellSouth to raise their local basic rates by 26 to 90 percent in exchange for cuts in the fees they charge long-distance carriers to access their networks. Attorney General Charlie Crist and senior-citizen advocacy group AARP had asked the PSC to reconsider its decision. The PSC is scheduled to vote on the recommendation Monday.

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