The Slatest

Company Responsible For Restoring Power to Puerto Rico Stopped Working, Says It’s Owed Millions 

A power line tower downed by the passing of Hurricane Maria lies on top of a house in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 7, 2017. 

Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

Whitefish Energy, the company that held a controversial contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s energy grid, announced Monday it is stopping its work on the island, claiming the territory’s power authority stopped its payments and now owes the company $83 million.

According to CNN, the CEO said Whitefish contractors restored transmission lines on the island even after the controversial contract with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was set to be voided. Puerto Rico began the process of disentangling itself from the $300 million contract in October, after the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, called for its cancellation. The process was to take a while—the company would still be allowed to finish the work it had started. The contract was set to expire December 1.

Advertisement

But Whitefish’s CEO has claimed the work the company continued went unpaid, despite repeated requests, and the company has announced it will now suspend its efforts until it receives payment for its completed work. PREPA confirmed it had stopped the payments but said it did so because one of Whitefish’s subcontractors requested the payments stop, as Whitefish owed the subcontractor money, according to ABC News. PREPA told ABC it was working with Whitefish and the subcontractor to resolve the issue and continue work in the remaining days of the contract.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Whitefish has been heavily reliant on contractors and subcontractors, as it originally had only two full-time employees at the time it landed the contract. The small size of the Montana-based company, as well as its questionable ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and a major Trump donor, sparked widespread outrage after it was chosen for a $300 million contract. Under the contract, subcontractors made as much as $462 per hour, racking up high costs for PREPA, which was already billions in debt before the Hurricane struck. In October, it was revealed the FBI was reportedly investigating the contract. Whitefish’s CEO has said the company was a good choice for the situation because of its experience with linework in mountainous regions

More than half of the island’s power capacity remains impaired, and entire communities still lack power.

Advertisement