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, as he asked two states with strong to the island for help.
“There can be no distraction that alters the commitment to restore the electrical system as quickly as possible,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello said on Sunday morning, as he moved to ask for mutual aid from the U.S. mainland to fix his island’s decimated power grid.
“I have given instructions to immediately coordinate with the states of Florida and New York,” to bring in power crews to help restore electricity to the island,” the Governor added.
The latest updates from the Puerto Rican government show that almost 70 percent of the island remains without power; the storm made landfall on the island on September 20.
The move came as the Congress has already been asking questions about the deal – more than interested by the fact that Whitefish Energy had only two full-time employees at the time that Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico in September.
Last week, the White House, the Interior Department, and FEMA all denied playing any role in the selection of the company, which is located in the same home town in Montana as that of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“The federal government as I said has nothing to do with this contract or the process,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “This was something solely determined by the Puerto Rican government.”
Questions have been raised not only about the selection of the firm, but also details of the Whitefish Energy contract, which say that no oversight is allowed by federal officials or the government of Puerto Rico.
While many Democrats have raised questions about the deal, it has also clearly worried some Republicans in Congress.
“Should have never happened in the first place,” said Rep. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) in tweet, reacting to Gov. Rossello’s call for the contract to be scrapped.