tampabay.com

Talk of the bay

By TIMES WIRES
Published December 20, 2006


PORT AUTHORITY FINDS LEADER WITH SEA LEGS

It took a mere 60-some years, but someone in the maritime industry is again at the helm of the agency that manages public land at Tampa's port. Tampa Port Authority commissioners on Tuesday elected Steven Pinney of phosphate giant The Mosaic Co. as their chairman. Port business leaders lobbied hard last year for a bill requiring that two of the board's seven seats be held by people with maritime backgrounds. Pinney said Tuesday he'll be careful to avoid voting on actions that affect Mosaic, a major exporter of phosphate and fertilizer. He abstained from voting "three or four times" on issues involving Mosaic customers, suppliers and a competitor since joining the board in February.

A homecoming of sorts for Progress

Corporations delight in naming prominent buildings after themselves. Yes, that includes even this newspaper and the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa. So what better place for Progress Energy to hold its 2007 annual meeting in May than the Mahaffey Theater at the Progress Energy Center in downtown St. Petersburg? The last time Progress Energy, based in Raleigh, N.C., held its annual shareholders gathering at the Mahaffey was in 2002 at what was then called the Bayfront Center. One of the key messages Progress CEO Bob McGehee is sure to tell investors: The power company has finally completed divesting nearly all of the old and distracting businesses that the former Florida Progress Corp. (later acquired by Progress) had accumulated in its diversification years. The new and simple strategy? Generating lots of electricity, and little else.

Desal plant news flows unevenly

It sounded vaguely familiar Monday when an American Water Pridesa executive told local utility officials that the Apollo Beach desalination plant would not debut until March 30. A month ago, American Water CEO Don Correll told the Times that the facility would go online in spring 2007, not in late December, as planned. Within hours, Correll and his minions backed off, saying there must have been a misunderstanding. Now, we're not so sure. "I don't want to do the 'he said, she said,' " spokeswoman Kimberly Cooper said Tuesday. "I'd rather say we are ridiculously optimistic that this is going to work."

. THE TICKER

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