Oct. 29 (UPI) — Puerto Rico’s governor called for the island’s utility to cancel a $300 million power restoration contract with a small Montana-based company on Sunday.
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 New York.
“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,” Rossello said.
Rossello referred to the Whitefish Energy contract as a “distraction” after questions were raised about the company’s capability to handle the restoration project. More than 80 percent of people living in Puerto Rico are still without power.
“There can be no distraction that alters the commitment to lift the electrical system as quickly as possible,” Rossello said.
He also called for a “special outside coordinator” to monitor PREPA’s purchases to provide ” more clarity in this process.”
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.
Rossello had previously requested the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security inspect the deal. He also asked Puerto Rico’s Office of Management and Budget to audit the deal to ensure it complies with federal law.
The White House and FEMA, the federal disaster management agency, said on Friday they had nothing to do with hiring Whitefish Energy to restore power in the U.S. commonwealth.