FBI Said to Be Investigating Puerto Rico Power Contract

PR Gov. threatens 'hell to pay' as probes of $300M repair contract begin

Puerto Rico Governor Calls for Whitefish Energy Contact to Be Canceled 'Immediately'

The tiny electrical company with only two full-time employees had been awarded a huge $300 million contract to restore electricity knocked out by Hurricane Maria.

Governor Ricardo Roselló had asked the power authority to make this announcement because the contract had become a "distraction" and that attention had to be refocused on restoring power. It was exclusively determined by the Puerto Rican government.

Ricardo Ramos, executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, said Whitefish would be paid to complete ongoing work on a transmission line.

"We will certainly finish any work that PREPA wants us to complete and stand by our commitments knowing that we made an important contribution to the restoration of the power grid since our arrival on the island on October 2".

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Just last week, the oversight board said it would use its existing authority to install its own emergency manager - dubbed chief transformation officer - to pay closer attention to the day-to-day operations of the utility. He added that significant work had already been completed, including a project that will soon lead to 500,000 people in San Juan getting electrical power. Ramos said it would take effect 30 days after that.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the contract to Whitefish Energy as made exclusively by PREPA and FEMA was not involved at all.

FEMA has raised concerns about how Whitefish got the deal and whether the contracted prices were reasonable.

Both Zinke and Techmanski have denied allegations that the Department of the Interior secretary had anything to do with the contract being awarded. PREPA also said that it didn't ask for mutual aid because it expected that reconstruction help the federal government wouldn't cost it anything.But now utility crews are en route from Florida and NY, which means PREPA may have to come up with money to pay for relief sooner than expected.

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A Whitefish contract obtained by The Associated Press found that the deal included $20,277 an hour for a heavy lift Chinook helicopter, $650 an hour for a large crane truck, $322 an hour for a foreman of a power line crew, $319 an hour for a journeyman lineman and $286 an hour for a mechanic.

Democrats also have questioned the role of HBC Investments, a key financial backer of Whitefish.

"It is interfering with everything and it doesn't go towards the best interest of people of Puerto Rico", Gov. Rosselló said.

Thousands left homeless by the storm had no relief in sight, about 30 percent of normal power was being generated, few of the island's hospitals were functioning, and there were reports that available water supplies were contaminated, the experts said in a statement.

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