Published: Tue, October 31, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Controversy Remains After Cancellation of Whitefish Energy's Puerto Rico Contract

Controversy Remains After Cancellation of Whitefish Energy's Puerto Rico Contract

On Oct. 30, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in San Juan was investigating how and why the Puerto Rico Electric Authority (PREPA) awarded Whitefish a $300 million contract to rebuild the island's devastated power grid, according to CBS News. "This was negatively impacting the work we're already doing". PREPA also signed the contract in lieu of invoking mutual aid agreements with other USA utilities, which was what power companies in Florida did after Hurricane Irma and helped speed up the restoration of power there.

In a further statement posted on Facebook, Whitefish said it managed to obtain 350 workers for the task of restoring Puerto Rico's power and that it was disappointed by the decision to scrap the contract.

"We will certainly finish any work that (the power authority) wants us to complete and stand by our commitments", he said.

FEMA said that it has not approved any reimbursement requests from the power authority for money to cover repairs to the island's #Electricity Power system.

"The decision announced today is meant to reaffirm our commitment to transparency in the contracting process in the government of Puerto Rico and to achieve the highest degree of efficiency possible in the restoration of the power grid of our island, in the shortest amount of time possible".

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The cancellation is not official until the utility's board (PREPA's board) approves of it.

The current work by Whitefish teams will not be affected by the cancellation and that work will be completed in November, Ramos said. It will come into effect 30 days after.

FEMA also raised concerns.

The company is headquartered in Interior Secretary Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana, a town of 7,200, and is financed by a private equity firm run by a major donor to President Trump.

The governor is hoping to bring more power crews from NY and Florida. The governor is opposing the appointment and said he would name his own administrator for PREPA's purchases.

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One of Zinke's sons worked for a summer on a construction site for Andy Techmanski, Whitefish's CEO.

The recovery efforts in Puerto Rico could be delayed as the government parts ways with the power company that was brought in to bring the island back online.

A clause in Whitefish's contract stated that "pay rates and other terms of the agreement could not be audited or reviewed by FEMA, the commonwealth, the comptroller general or PREPA".

Last week, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz questioned how the two-year-old company secured such a large contract.

"I am making this determination because it is in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico", Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló stated during a press conference Sunday.

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Ricardo Rossello invited him earlier this month.

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