The mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city is demanding that the $300 million Puerto Rico energy contract awarded to a tiny two-year-old company from the Montana hometown of Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke be “voided right away,” calling for “a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical.”
On the day Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory, Whitefish Energy had only two full-time employees and held a resumé which included repairing a few miles of electrical line in Arizona, according to The Washington Post. The company now has 280 workers on the island, a majority of whom are subcontractors.
A former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies said it was “odd” that tiny Montana company would be chosen.
“The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” Susan F. Tierney said. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told Yahoo News that the contract is “alarming.”
“The contract should be voided right away and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place,” she continued.
“It seems like what the Puerto Rican people are going to be paying for, or the American people are going to be paying for, is an intermediary that doesn’t know what is at stake here and that really has to subcontract everything. … What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done.”
In a statement, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the contract went to Whitefish because it didn’t need money up front, something the island’s struggling utility couldn’t provide.
“Of all those who met the requirements and aggressive schedules to bring brigades, one was asking for a substantial amount of money — which PREPA had no liquidity for — and another did not require it,” he said. “That other one is Whitefish.”