Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló called for an immediate cancellation of a tiny Montana firm's $300 million contract to restore power to the storm-hit USA territory, his office confirmed Sunday. Whitefish is based in the Montana town of the same name, which also is the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
"There can not be any distraction that alters the commitment of raising electric system as soon as possible", Rossello said of the contract, which came under scrutiny last week. 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.
He said the contract with Whitefish Energy had become a distraction after critics in the electric power industry, Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency raised questions.
Whitefish Energy formed two years ago and had two employees when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, six days before the Montana company was awarded the contract.
The list of players responsible for getting the lights on is long: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for restoring an area after a disaster hits; the Army Corps of Engineers, which does the on-the-ground work of restoring power plants and distribution; Puerto Rico's state and local governments; and PREPA and a handful of private power companies hired by PREPA to do fix work.
The contract was given to Whitefish Energy, which has little experience of work on such a scale, without a public bid process.
In an interview Thursday, the utility's chief executive, Ricardo Ramos, said the utility has been pleased with the work so far by Whitefish. The contract was awarded without a competitive bidding process, Reuters reported, which drew criticism from lawmakers who are now looking into the deal.
Mark Halperin tweet about Trump ripped by critics amid sexual harassment allegations
None of the women said Halperin ever promised things in exchange for sex, nor threatened retribution for rejection. Halperin, 52, is now a contributor to MSNBC and frequently appears on " Morning Joe " with former Republican Rep.
Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona said, "Congress needs to understand why the Whitefish contract was awarded and whether other, more cost-effective options were available".
Gov. Ricardo Rossello held a press conference asking Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to cancel its deal with Whitefish Energy Holdings and coordinate with utility companies in Florida and NY. Whitefish has said the company has expertise in mountainous areas, and arrived in Puerto Rico before other companies.
Zinke's office told the Post that he had had no role in the contract.
"The governor also did not say how the utility would disentangle itself from the contract with Whitefish Energy".
Ramos also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency had approved of the deal, something the agency has denied.
"If there is no wrongdoing, if it has been done correctly, then we will push forward", Rosselló said.