Puerto Rico's Frantic Search for Someone to Turn on the Lights

A Loon balloon getting ready to take flight to Puerto Rico from X's launch site in Nevada

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló called for an immediate cancellation of a tiny Montana firm's $300 million contract to restore power to the storm-hit USA territory, his office confirmed Sunday.

In a statement Friday, Zinke labeled as "completely baseless" any "attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract" involving Whitefish Energy Holdings.

"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 USA mainland to fix his island's decimated power grid.

Whitefish is only two years old and had few employees before Hurricane Maria hit. In a statement, FEMA said it was not involved in the decision, and warned that it might not reimburse the authority, known as PREPA, if the contract does not abide by federal requirements.

"Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday that the federal government had nothing to do with the decision to award a small Montana company with a contract to fix Puerto Rico's electrical grid.

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The latest updates from the Puerto Rican government show that nearly 70 percent of the island remains without power; the storm made landfall on the island on September 20. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zinke "just for clarification" purposes.

In defense of the contract with Whitefish, Puerto Rico officials have said the company was willing to work without a down payment, which made it more attractive to the debt-ridden island. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, knows Techmanski, and Zinke's son also had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site.

And that the Puerto Rican government "waives any claim against contractor related to delayed completion of work". Rosselló added that the contract "appeared to comply 100% with FEMA regulations".

Raul Grijalva of Arizona, senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said on Tuesday, "Congress needs to understand why the Whitefish contract was awarded and whether other, more cost-effective options were available".

The White House and FEMA, the federal disaster management agency, said on Friday they had nothing to do with hiring Whitefish Energy to restore power in the US commonwealth.

"The first I heard of the Whitefish Energy contract was through the news", he said. There will be a separate audit by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General's Office.

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