Puerto Rico governor demands cancelation of Whitefish power contract
01:39, Oct 30, 2017
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Governor Ricardo Rossello said the board of the island's power company should rescind the $300 million pact with Whitefish Energy Holdings, an upstart fix company in Montana, a western US state, even though just days ago he defended the contract.
The contract for the tiny company based in Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana, has drawn a bipartisan chorus of criticism from Capitol Hill.
"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.
More than a month after Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean, over 70 percent of the USA island territory still has no electricity.
"As a result of the information that has been revealed and the need to protect the public interest, as governor I am asking the power authority to cancel the Whitefish contract immediately", Rosselló said in an usual Sunday morning news conference at La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.
Thirty-nine days after Hurricane Maria hit the territory, Rossello said that he would request assistance from Florida and NY under mutual aid arrangements that utilities traditionally activate to help other states during an emergency.
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Whitefish Energy Holdings officials have insisted that they secured the deal legitimately and would not oppose an audit of the company's work.
"Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor".
"The federal government as I said has nothing to do with this contract or the process", said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The Puerto Rican government admitted that 911 people had died of "natural causes" after the storm. It has been working under contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
Zinke's office said the secretary knows Techmanski but only because both are from a small town where "everybody knows everybody", Politico reported, adding that one of Zinke's sons "joined a friend who worked a summer job' at one of Techmanski's construction sites". FEMA on Friday said that it had not approved the Whitefish Energy agreement. There will be a separate audit by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General's Office. The statement went on to say, "The decision to award a contract to Whitefish Energy was made exclusively by PREPA".
"The governor also did not say how the utility would disentangle itself from the contract with Whitefish Energy".
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The devastation from Ophelia left 360,000 people without power which was a result of trees falling onto power lines. Some transport disruption is likely, and short term loss of power and other services is also possible.
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