Puerto Rico's Power Utility Defends Whitefish Energy Contract At Senate Hearing

Puerto Rico's Power Utility Defends Whitefish Energy Contract At Senate Hearing

Puerto Rico's Power Utility Defends Whitefish Energy Contract At Senate Hearing

"What we're asking is equal treatment", with other parts of the USA which have been hit by hurricanes this year, he said, adding, "What I can not accept is unequal treatment towards the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico".

On Oct. 29, PREPA said it would be cancelling Whitefish's multi-million dollar contract.

As of 14 November 2017, around 48 percent of the territory's electrical grid had been restored.

"A legacy of dysfunction (at PREPA) has created a competence deficit that threatens the Island's ability to improve conditions for its citizens", Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources said in a statement.

PREPA chief Ricardo Ramos is expected to testify before the Senate committee on Tuesday, and Rosselló will also appear before a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon. At least six other workers were making $42 an hour. The New York Times reported linemen being paid as little as $63 per hour, but Whitefish still billed Puerto Rico the $319 rate. Puerto Rico's governor called for the inspector general to audit the contract and company to determine if Puerto Rican and federal law was followed properly.

Almost 500 more people died in Puerto Rico this September than a year earlier, according to regional authorities, though officials refused to blame those deaths to Maria.

Keep in mind that there were no "market prices" for this type of storm work on an island that had virtually no power and no external communications, and whose access roads and transportation infrastructure were destroyed. "One proposal required a guaranteed payment of $25 million, the other - from Whitefish - offered PREPA the ability to pay only for work that was completed (and mobilization/demobilization)", Ramos told the committee.

After subcontracting with other US utility companies and mobilizing hundreds of workers to the region, Whitefish came under scrutiny for allegations of overbilling and questionable practices in obtaining the contract.

Since JEA is a subcontractor to Whitefish, the termination of the Whitefish contract resulted in a termination of JEA's subcontract on November 30.

On 13 November 2017, federal District Judge Laura Taylor Swain ruled that the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico could not appoint Noel Zamot, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, to take over management of PREPA.

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