aside Puerto Rico Cancelled Contract With Whitefish Energy To Repair The Island’s Utilities Systems

Image result for photos of whitefish energy headquarters

Whitefish Energy should have been banned from ever obtaining a contract with the federal government based on past extremely poor performance records. However, it seems that exceptions can be made if this energy company is based in the place where the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke is from and were his son had found summer employment.

If the shoes were reversed where this was a democratic administration, investigations would have already been demanded by republicans in the US Congress.

Image result for photos of whitefish energy headquarters

Image result for photos of whitefish energy headquarters

Image result for photos of whitefish energy headquarters
WHITEFISH ENERGY HEADQUARTERS

Here is the rest of the story….

On October 29, 2017, Steven Mufson of the Washington Post penned the following report, “Puerto Rico’s utility cancels controversial $300 million contract with Montana firm hired to repair electrical grid.”

Excerpts:

“BREAKING: Puerto Rico’s utility cancels the controversial $300 million contract with a Montana firm hired to repair its electrical grid.”

Image result for photos of Ricardo Rossello

“The announcement by the island state-owned utility came hours after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello called for the contract with Whitefish Energy to be canceled.”

“The governor of Puerto Rico called for the cancellation of a controversial $300 million contract the island’s utility signed with a small Montana-based company tasked with a central role in repairing the territory’s hurricane-ravaged electric power grid.”

“Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said that the contract was a distraction after critics in the electric power industry, Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency raised questions about whether the company, Whitefish Energy, was well equipped to respond to the hurricane damage.”

Image result for photos of Ricardo Rossello

“Thirty-nine days after Hurricane Maria hit the territory, Rossello said that he would request assistance from Florida and New York under mutual aid arrangements that utilities traditionally activate to help other states during an emergency. About 80 percent of the people living on the island still have no electricity.”

“In tweets Sunday morning, Rosselló also called for additional measures to scrutinize contracting by the island’s power authority more carefully. Rossello said there should be a “special outside coordinator” to monitor the utility’s purchases so we “can have more clarity in this process.”

Image result for photos of Ricardo Rossello
GOVERNOR ROSSELLO

“The governor’s statements, however, added to the confusion about the oversight of the utility and the commonwealth, both of which are bankrupt. A financial oversight board Congress created for Puerto Rico is planning to ask a federal court this week for clear authority to examine contracts as small as $10 million. The federal judge is overseeing the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s more than $70 billion in debts.”

“Just last week, the oversight board also said it would use its authority to install its own emergency manager to pay closer attention to the day-to-day operations of the utility. The governor is opposing the appointment and said he would name his own administrator for PREPA’s purchases.”

 

“The governor also did not say how the utility would disentangle itself from the contract with Whitefish Energy.”

Whitefish Energy, which had just two employees the day Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, now has about 325 people working on restringing transmission lines, clearing debris and erecting fallen poles. It has been working under contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

Image result for PHOTOS OF RYAN ZINKE
RYAN ZINKE

“Whitefish, Mont., is the home of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, although the company said he played no role in securing the business. One of Zinke’s sons worked for Whitefish Energy over the summer.”

“Many people in the utility business had said that the authority, known as PREPA, would have been better off tapping into the well-established networks of utilities that have formed mutual aid groups expressly for the purpose of emergency relief. In addition, many in the industry have suggested that Whitefish Energy’s pay scales — as high as $462 an hour — were much higher than is typical even in an emergency such as the one facing Puerto Rico.”

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13 comments

    • Dear Tony Burgess,

      Kickbacks anyone? We are in the wrong business. We should call ourselves Bloggers’ Energy and then apply for a 300 million dollar government contract. Heck, I would settle for the $462.00 per hour.

      Hugs, Gronda.

    • Dear Keith,

      There is definitely something amiss. I had a great time at the convention. I learned enough to know that the democrats are serious about winning back Florida and that they are taking the appropriate steps to attain this goal.

      I left my cell phone in my hotel room with a lot of the pictures that I’d like to use in a blog. The hotel is mailing it to me.

      Hugs, Gronda

    • Dear Roger,

      Thanks for your gracious feedback. I am nearing 70 but when I find myself tiring, I just remind myself that President Trump is 71 years old and that gives me a boost. I am highly motivated.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Yesterday I was in a supermarket and I heard a customer say ‘Thank goodness I’m only 84,’…..Now that’s the spirit!.
        I’m just a youngster of 67, I was very impressed by his character and by your own endeavours to keep light burning.

  1. Gee, dear Gronda, I need to take a sedative before reading your posts! The rampant corruption is unbelievable. As for the topic at hand, if FEMA didn’t approve the Whitefish contract, wouldn’t it be easy to cancel?

    • Dear John Fioravanti,

      I called a couple of local electricians and told them that they are in the wrong business. A pay rate of $462 per hour is nothing to sneeze at and you would think that many would jump at this opportunity. The people I talked to said they would be worried that they would never see a pay check..

      You are right!! FEMA did not okay this contract but the Governor did. This is a bit fishy…

      AS PER WIKIPEDIA, “FEMA categorically denied any involvement with the contract. Moreover, when questioned about the stipulation, PREPA executive director Ricardo Ramos said that, “There [was] no other explanation for that other than an ‘oops.'” Furthermore, FEMA expressed that it had “significant concerns over how PREPA procured this contract” and that the agency had not confirmed “whether the contract prices [were] reasonable” because the contract was given without the competitive bidding process typically associated with federal contracts. The no bidding contracting, however, was performed lawfully under Puerto Rican law, as Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello had proclaimed an executive order beforehand that left without effect all the processes established by law or by regulation to contract private entities, using as an argument for its decree a previously lawfully declared state of emergency.”

      “Another point of contention regarding the contract was its wording. Specifically, a clause in the contract prevents the government from auditing or reviewing its labor cost and profit elements. According to NPR, such elements would likely be the core interest of any auditor.”

      “A third reason for labeling the contract as unusual was that PREPA chose Whitefish rather than using their mutual aid agreements with mainland utilities. But Ramos explained that Whitefish did not require a $25 million tender as another competitor did. Furthermore, PREPA’s mutual aid agreements required the utility company to undertake the logistics of housing workers and transporting materials to the island, while Whitefish’s contract did not.”

      “Whitefish’s adequacy was another reason why the contract was labeled as unusual. Before being awarded PREPA’s contract, Whitefish’s largest contract was a $1.3 million electrical upgrade in Arizona. In addition, Whitefish, as a holding company, only had two employees when the hurricane struck. Moreover, their primary investor, HBC Investments, was founded by Joe Colonnetta, a “prominent donor” of incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski and United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke also know each other, as both hail from Whitefish, Montana. Techmanski also admitted that he had been in touch with Zinke in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to try to free up more resources since getting crews and equipment to Puerto Rico had been difficult.. Additionally, one of Zinke’s son also worked at one of Techmanski’s construction sites in the past. Well-known Fortune 500 global engineering firm Fluor Corporation also received a rebuild contract; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract was for $240M, $60M less than tiny Whitefish’s contract.

      What parts of this deal doesn’t stink?

      Hugs, Gronda

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