Puerto Rico governor wants power contract cancelled

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

"Following the information that has emerged, and with the goal of protecting public interest, as governor I am asking government and energy authorities to immediately activate the clause to cancel the contract to Whitefish Energy", Rossello said in a statement, as carried by Reuters.

Puerto Rico had the opportunity to opt for mutual aid arrangements but instead opted to outsource the small private company. A spokesperson for Gov. Ricardo Rossello said he "welcomes any investigation by the federal authorities and he has been clear: there should be an investigation on this matter, and if there is any wrongdoing, the persons responsible should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law". Weeks later, that hiring became the subject of controversy when it became clear that Whitefish had subcontracted hundreds of workers when a project like this would normally require thousands, leading to the power grid fix taking longer than hoped.

"Even before Hurricane Maria struck, Puerto Rico's human rights were already being massively undermined by the economic and financial crisis and austerity policies, affecting the rights to health, food, education, housing, water and social security", Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, a United Nations envoy on debt and human rights, said in an emailed statement. It was exclusively determined by the Puerto Rican government.

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Most notably, Whitefish was already on PREPA's radar over the summer when the company's CEO vacationed on the island and met with utility officials.

It has been several weeks since Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico and about 75 percent of the island is still without power.

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"We will certainly finish any work that (the power company) wants us to complete and stand by our commitments", he said. Whitefish has never worked on a project of that size. He said there should be a "special outside coordinator" to monitor the utility's purchases so we "can have more clarity in this process". The governor added that he has requested assistance from NY and Florida under the "mutual aid" agreements that utilities usually activate during emergencies-as was the case in Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, respectively-but which Puerto Rico had not done post-Maria. The agency said they have "significant concerns" with how PREPA was able to make the $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy.

The company charges $319 an hour for a subcontracted lineman. "Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless".

Ricardo Rossello invited him earlier this month.

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