Ever since it was announced that tiny (as in ‘two-full-time-employees’ tiny) Montana firm Whitefish Energy had won a $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, the decision has been met with scrutiny. The company’s lack of a track record and association with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seemed extremely fishy, as did the actual contract that basically said that Puerto Rico couldn’t audit the company and would pay its line workers nearly twice as much as utility workers received to bring Florida and Houston back up to speed. Fortunately, leaders of Puerto Rico announced over the weekend that the territory was canceling its contract with the firm.
As if losing a cushy, no-bid contract wasn’t bad enough, the FBI is now looking into the contract, and presumably, the dealings between Whitefish and the Puerto Rico Power Authority known as PREPA. A spokesperson for Gov. Ricardo Rossello said he “welcomes any investigation by the federal authorities and he has been clear: there should be an investigation on this matter, and if there is any wrongdoing, the persons responsible should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
PREPA has maintained that the contracting process was done according to emergency restoration regulations while also acknowledging that the process was rushed because of the emergency circumstances.
Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, the island could be stuck with the bill for Whitefish’s already completed work if FEMA decides to not reimburse what has already been spent.
(Via Wall Street Journal)