Puerto Rico governor: Scrap Whitefish energy grid deal

A Loon balloon getting ready to take flight to Puerto Rico from X's launch site in Nevada

A Loon balloon getting ready to take flight to Puerto Rico from X's launch site in Nevada

Governor Ricardo Rossello said the board of the island's power company should rescind the $300 million pact with Whitefish Energy Holdings, an upstart fix company in Montana, a western US state, even though just days ago he defended the contract.

"There can be no distraction that alters the commitment to restore the electrical system as quickly as possible", Gov. Ricardo Rossello said on Sunday morning, as he moved to ask for mutual aid from the USA mainland to fix his island's decimated power grid. FEMA says it hasn't approved any reimbursement requests from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority for money to cover the ongoing repairs to the island's power grid following Hurricane Maria. In a statement, FEMA said it was not involved in the decision, and warned that it might not reimburse the authority, known as PREPA, if the contract does not abide by federal requirements. When it was hired, 2-year-old Whitefish had just two workers.

A $300 million government contract awarded to Whitefish Energy was revealed Friday.

"Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor".

The Trump administration denied Friday (Oct. 27) that political connections had anything to do with restoring electrical connections in Puerto Rico, and Zinke said Friday he had nothing to do with the contract.

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The CEO of a company that received a highly scrutinized contract to restore power to Puerto Rico was born and raised in Baldwinsville.

"FEMA is presently engaged with PREPA and its legal counsel to obtain information about the contract and contracting process, including how the contract was procured and how PREPA determined the contract prices were reasonable", it said.

And that the Puerto Rican government "waives any claim against contractor related to delayed completion of work". The internal watchdog at the Department of Homeland Security said it is investigating the contract and will look for any "inappropriate relationships" associated with it. Zinke has said he had nothing to do with the contract.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., chair of the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote a letter directing the head of Puerto Rico's public utility system to retain all records surrounding the hiring of Whitefish Energy and to turn documents over to Congress. He also flew to Puerto Rico in a "leap of faith" in hopes of getting the contract.

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.

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