After days of questions about the awarding of a $300 million, no bid contract to a small firm from Montana to restore power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the Governor of Puerto Rico on Sunday said it was time to cancel the contract between Whitefish Energy and the Puerto Rican electrical authority.
Rossello retweeted statements asking the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA, or AEE: Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico) to cancel its contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings.
"As soon as this whole issue was interpreted by the tabloids that PREPA has given away $300 million to a company with little experience.if you read that, and you have no light and no water that perception changes abruptly to the extent that the last four days they´ve been throwing stones and bottles" at workers, Ramos said. "Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless".
The specific terms of the contract also raised eyebrows, from the exorbitant hourly rates charged by Whitefish to its barring of a government audit. Whitefish has said the company has expertise in mountainous areas, and arrived in Puerto Rico before other companies.
The Puerto Rican government is bracing for the possibility that Whitefish would sue for breach of contract if the cancellation is approved, according to sources familiar with discussions.
Some 75% of Puerto Ricans have no power five weeks after Hurricane Maria.
The contract drew scrutiny because the company had only two employees when it was awarded and is headquartered in the hometown of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
"They're doing an excellent job", he said. Zinke met with President Donald Trump on Friday morning, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump did ask Zinke about the contract, to which Zinke denied involvement.More news: Watch Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda debut Chester Bennington tribute song
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Scott's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The contract states that "Prepa hereby represents and warrants that Fema has reviewed and approved of this Contract".
Congressional Democrats are calling for an investigation into how Whitefish got the contract.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana told the AP that he did not know Whitefish or its CEO, Andy Techmanski, and said he was surprised it was able to secure the contract.
The White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) distanced themselves from the deal last week. In a bipartisan letter signed by leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, congressmen are seeking documents from Whitefish and asked for a briefing before committee staff by early November.
But the industry plan may conflict with the goals of the federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico's troubled finances.
The Department of Homeland Security says its has started an investigation of the awarding of the contract and will look for any "inappropriate relationships".