Puerto Rico, Whitefish defend controversial power contract

(Reuters) – Puerto Rico and Whitefish Power Holdings on Tuesday defended their $300 million contract for the small Montana firm to restore the U.S. territory’s hurricane-ravaged energy grid after the deal was criticized by U.S. lawmakers.

FILE PHOTO: Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello attends a information convention days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photograph

The again-and-forth comes as Puerto Rico struggles to revive energy to greater than eighty % of the island a month after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Whitefish final month signed a cope with Puerto Rico’s quasi-public energy utility, PREPA, to assist repair a grid that was almost destroyed by Maria, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in ninety years.

Whitefish was awarded the deal and not using a aggressive bidding course of, and regardless of the information that it had simply two full-time staff and was established solely two years in the past. That drew criticism from legislators who advised cheaper choices may need been obtainable.

In a press release on Tuesday, Governor Ricardo Rossello stated his administration would evaluation PREPA’s contracting practices and ahead findings to the island’s comptroller.

Rossello defended the deal, saying it was vital to make sure Puerto Rico would have staff in place shortly.

“Of these (contractors) who met the necessities and aggressive schedules to deliver brigades, one was asking for a considerable sum of money – which PREPA had no liquidity for – and one other didn’t require it,” Rossello stated. “That different one is Whitefish.”

Already in chapter to shed $seventy two billion of debt, Puerto Rico was in monetary straits even earlier than the storm. Because the island grapples to get again on its ft, energy restoration is a key problem – and considered one of eager curiosity to contractors and lawmakers alike.

Maria reduce energy to all of Puerto Rico when it made landfall on Sept. 20. As of Monday, solely 18 % had been restored, in response to U.S. Division of Power knowledge.

Rossello’s feedback adopted criticism from lawmakers like Democrat Raul Grijalva, the rating member of the U.S. Home Committee on Pure Assets, who stated in a press release on Tuesday that “Congress wants to know why the Whitefish contract was awarded and whether or not different, less expensive choices have been obtainable.”

In a phone interview Tuesday night, Whitefish spokesman Ken Luce referred to as the criticism unfounded, saying…

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