World Media

Puerto Rico Cancels Whitefish Energy Contract

Puerto Rico Cancels Whitefish Energy 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.

Gov. Rosselló made the announcement almost a week after questions were raised about how a small energy company in Montana got a $300 million "no bid" contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico's electrical grid.

Ramos said his agency at first believed the Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-approved contracts, something the agency has denied.

Many in the industry have suggested that Whitefish Energy's pay scales - as high as $462 an hour - were much higher than is typical even in an emergency such as the one facing Puerto Rico.

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"This was something exclusively determined by the Puerto Rican government", she said Friday.

Most notably, Whitefish was already on PREPA's radar over the summer when the company's CEO vacationed on the island and met with utility officials.

Some stores, restaurants, medical centres, and a few private residences are running on generators but most of the island - 70 percent, are still without electrical power, more than a month after Hurricane Maria struck. It said it had helped restore power to hospitals, businesses and residents of Manati, and will soon complete work on a project to restore power to 500,000 people in the city of San Juan.

The FBI is examining the $300 million contract that was recently signed and then canceled between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and Whitefish Energy Holdings to fix Puerto Rico's power grid, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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Saturday saw the government in Madrid remove Catalonia's autonomy and take over government functions in the region. Only the director of the Catalan regional police, who was also fired, issued a statement saying he would comply.

"We will certainly finish any work that (the power company) wants us to complete and stand by our commitments", he said. PREPA also said that it didn't ask for mutual aid because it expected that reconstruction help the federal government wouldn't cost it anything.But now utility crews are en route from Florida and NY, which means PREPA may have to come up with money to pay for relief sooner than expected.

A spokesperson for Whitefish Energy, Chris Chiames said that the company was "very disappointed" in the governor's decision. "Of that, we're sure", he said, adding that he welcomes a federal investigation.

A spokeswoman for the power authority said the agency had no information about an investigation, and therefore had no comment. Fema said it was not involved in the selection of Whitefish and that is has "significant concerns" about how it was decided. The rate of $319.04 an hour for a lineman works out to $622,000 a year. Chiames, the Whitefish spokesman, has said that Colonnetta's political donations were "irrelevant" and that the company would cooperate with any federal authorities.

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