Puerto Rico governor wants Whitefish contract cancelled 'immediately'

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

Puerto Rico's governor on Sunday demanded that the board of the island's power company cancel the $300M contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings amid increased scrutiny of the Montana company's role in Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Whitefish, which received the largest contract yet awarded in the troubled relief effort, had only two full-time employees on the day Maria hit the island.

"We need answers from Whitefish, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the federal government - and we need them soon", McCaskill said. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, senior Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the Whitefish contract "raises every red flag in the book".

On Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce requested documents related to the contract from Whitefish.

When Maria slammed Puerto Rico on September 20 as a Category 4 storm, it leveled an already-fragile infrastructure, essentially wiping out power to the entire island.

"Usually after huge power outages, electric companies arrange mutual aid agreements with utilities elsewhere to bring in workers to help restore power".

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

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said that the contract was a distraction after critics in the electric power industry, Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency raised questions about whether the company, Whitefish Energy, was well equipped to respond to the hurricane damage.

And that the Puerto Rican government "waives any claim against contractor related to delayed completion of work". White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zinke "just for clarification" purposes.

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. Rosselló added that the contract "appeared to comply 100% with FEMA regulations".

"The governor also did not say how the utility would disentangle itself from the contract with Whitefish Energy".

Rossello also asked for "a detailed and thorough investigation" into the recruitment process for emergency services, which led to the Whitefish contract, and for the installation of a trustee in the area of procurement and contracts.

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