Puerto Rican government clashes with San Juan mayor over “concerning” energy contract
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, San Juan’s mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz called a contract alarming in an interview with Yahoo News. The contract is with a small Montana firm based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Whitefish Energy signed the 300 million dollar contract despite only being a two-year-old company and only having two employees on its payroll at the time of the contract’s signing. Cruz does not believe that this contract will benefit the people of Puerto Rico, or that the contract is even ethical or that Whitefish knows what it is doing in taking on a contract of this magnitude.
Whitefish and the Puerto Rican government have defended the contract, saying that the company now has a workforce of three hundred on the island, also calling her comments “misguided.” Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello also said that the contract went to Whitefish because it didn’t need money upfront, something that the other qualifying contract offer did not have.
Whitefish made a spectacle of its work on the island, tweeting: “We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city and 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?”
Even though Rossello defended the contract, he still wants a full investigation into how the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority awarded the contract to Whitefish, and so do House Democrats and FEMA.
Rossello wants FEMA’s review of Whitefish’s contract in soon so that he can complete an assessment by Monday, October 30.
Update: According to the Washington Post, Puerto Rico’s electric company has moved to cancel the 300 million dollar contract with Whitefish Energy, citing the agreement was distracting from the effort to restore power. Instead, Governor Rossello is requesting that Florida and New York provide what is called a “mutual aid arrangement” that utilities usually activate during times of emergency.