Medicine

Puerto Rico governor demands cancelation of Whitefish power contract

Puerto Rico governor demands cancelation of Whitefish power contract

Whitefish Energy Holdings was awarded the no-bid contract by the beleaguered Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority on September 26, and the deal has drawn loud criticism since its specifics have trickled out.

Rossello said he has requested that crews from NY and Florida come help restore power in Puerto Rico as he criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not meeting its goals.

"We have 300 workers on the island and continue to make great progress on our assignments", the company said, "but others who will play a role need to get here faster and do more".

Zinke on Friday issued a statement saying he "had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico", saying "I welcome all investigations into these allegations".

Governor Ricardo Rossello took to Twitter Sunday to call for more detailed scrutiny of contracting processes and said he had referred the Whitefish Energy case to the office of the comptroller for investigation.

FEMA says its initial review raises significant concerns about how Whitefish got the deal and whether the contracted prices are reasonable.

Ramos said he had not talked with Whitefish executives about his announcement.

And that the Puerto Rican government "waives any claim against contractor related to delayed completion of work".

The company is headquartered in the town of Whitefish, the hometown of US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Whitefish had just two employees when Maria struck the island. Rosselló added that the contract "appeared to comply 100% with FEMA regulations".

The list of players responsible for getting the lights on is long: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for restoring an area after a disaster hits; the Army Corps of Engineers, which does the on-the-ground work of restoring power plants and distribution; Puerto Rico's state and local governments; and PREPA and a handful of private power companies hired by PREPA to do fix work.

Scott's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana told the AP that he did not know Whitefish or its CEO, Andy Techmanski, and said he was surprised it was able to secure the contract.

"The federal government as I said has nothing to do with this contract or the process", said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Whitefish has said that its expertise working in mountainous terrain qualifies it for the job and that its business model calls for rapidly expanding using subcontractors.

Democrats also have questioned the role of HBC Investments, a key financial backer of Whitefish.

"The White House is not aware of any federal involvement in the selection", White House spokesman Raj Shah said. In a bipartisan letter signed by leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, congressmen are seeking documents from Whitefish and asked for a briefing before committee staff by early November. Despite the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's capital city San Juan still has much to offer visitors.

But the industry plan may conflict with the goals of the federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico's troubled finances.


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