Puerto Rico Cancels Whitefish Energy Contract

Puerto Rico Cancels Whitefish Energy Contract

"Our focus continues to be on our work in Puerto Rico completing the work PREPA has tasked Whitefish to complete including the fix of the second major transmission line".

Puerto Rico had the opportunity to opt for mutual aid arrangements but instead opted to outsource the small private company.

Roughly 70 percent of the US territory remains without power more than a month after Maria struck on September 20 as a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 154 miles per hour (245 kph).

"There can be no distraction that alters the commitment to fix the power grid as quickly as possible", Rossello said in a statement Sunday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also raised concerns over whether the amount of the contract awarded was reasonable.

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 contract said the utility would not pay costs unallowable under FEMA grants, but it also said, "The federal government is not a party to this contract". It was exclusively determined by the Puerto Rican government.

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After calling for a probe into the Whitefish contract, Rossello, publicly urged PREPA to pull the plug.

"There's nothing illegal here. Of that, we're sure", he said, adding that he welcomes a federal investigation.

Many people in the utility business had said that PREPA would have been better off tapping into the well-established networks of utilities that have formed mutual aid groups expressly for the objective of emergency relief.

Partial electricity has been restored in 39 out of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities, according to an update from the U.S. Energy Department.

PREPA Director Ramos said that he had not talked with Whitefish executives about his announcement according to The Associated Press. "A lawsuit could be forthcoming", he warned.

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Three hours after the governor's surprise announcement, Ricardo Ramos, head of the bankrupt Puerto Rican electrical power authority, announced the contract will be canceled, but only after Whitefish complete its current work.

"It is interfering with everything and it doesn't go towards the best interest of people of Puerto Rico", Gov. Rosselló said.

In response to the criticism, Whitefish has said it landed the work because "we took the call and we're here".

Whitefish Energy Holdings said in a statement that the company was "very disappointed" by Rossello's decision. They had completed critical work, including a project that will soon lead to half a million people in San Juan getting power, Whitefish spokesman Chris Chiames told AP.

"We will certainly finish any work that PREPA wants us to complete and stand by our commitments knowing that we made an important contribution to the restoration of the power grid since our arrival on the island on October 2".

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