Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosell on Sunday called on the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (Prepa) to cancel its controversial contract with Whitefish Energy, a Montana-based company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown. Whitefish was awarded a $300 million contract to help rebuild the power grid in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
The contract drew skepticism for including odd provisions about payment. Zinke has insisted that he had no impact on the Whitefish contract decision. Last week, Whitefish engaged in a fight on Twitter with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz after she expressed distrust in the contract. Rosello subsequently ordered an investigation into the contracting process.
Rossello said Sunday he asked the board of governors of the Prepa to cancel the Whitefish contract. "There can be no distraction to alter the commitment to restore the power system as quickly as possible," he said.
Cruz appeared on MSNBC's "AM Joy" Sunday to explain her misgivings with the contract.
"There were too many questions. It was evident that this company did not have everything that was required to complete the mission it has to do in Puerto Rico," Cruz said. "And the people of the U.S. may remember when I called for the contract to be void, I was attacked by Whitefish on Twitter, and threatened to take away the 84 employees that had working in the city of San Juan. I continue to push on this because there are very many inconsistencies in that contract."
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) October 29, 2017
One of the discrepancies had to do with language in the contract that claimed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the award.
FEMA: "any language in any contract between PREPA and Whitefish that states FEMA approved that contract is inaccurate." https://t.co/yMQ7LOlOlW
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) October 28, 2017
Whitefish's contract appears to be yet another weak spot in the Trump administration's response to the disaster in Puerto Rico. One of Whitefish's top investors has given tens of thousands of dollars to the GOP, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Donald Trump, according to The Daily Beast.
Andy Techmanski, the CEO of Whitefish Energy said in early October 95 percent of the grid is on the ground in Puerto Rico and his company was organizing crews to slowly rebuild. “We’re in it for the long hall,” Techmanski told KECI. “It should take 6 months or more.”