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Puerto Rico governor: Scrap Whitefish energy grid deal

Puerto Rico governor: Scrap Whitefish energy grid deal

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority awarded a $300 million contract to Whitefish Energy last month, despite the fact that the firm had only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria hit.

"We need answers from Whitefish, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the federal government - and we need them soon", McCaskill said. The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, then weighed in on Whitefish, sparking a Twitter feud with the firm, which offered to take its workers home after she criticized the company and how the contract was awarded.

The latest updates from the Puerto Rican government show that nearly 70 percent of the island remains without power; the storm made landfall on the island on September 20.

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

A report in The Washington Post, noting that the company is based in Whitefish, Montana, the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, set off a storm of criticism this week and triggered calls for inquiries by Congress. Some critics of the deal with the for-profit company say the island should have opted to use a mutual-aid network of public utilities that usually are called on for massive fix work after natural disasters.

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. It has been working under contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. "This was a state and local decision made by the Puerto Rican authorities and not the federal government", Sanders said. One of Zinke's sons worked for Whitefish Energy over the summer. FEMA on Friday said that it had not approved the Whitefish Energy agreement.

The Department of Homeland Security says its has started an investigation of the awarding of the contract and will look for any "inappropriate relationships".

The US House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Caribbean island, is also scrutinising the contract.

"Based on initial review and information from PREPA, FEMA has significant concerns with how PREPA procured this contract and has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable", FEMA said in the statement.

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

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