SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The latest on Puerto Rico’s contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings (all times local):
Whitefish Energy Holdings says it is “very disappointed” that authorities in Puerto Rico have canceled its $300 million contract to help rebuild the U.S. island’s electricity system.
The contract had been questioned because the company had only two full-time employees when the contract was awarded and it is based in the Montana hometown of the U.S. interior secretary.
Whitefish spokesman Chris Chiames tells The Associated Press that Sunday’s cancellation will only delay efforts to restore power for Puerto Rico, which was hit hard by Hurricane Maria.
Chiames says Whitefish has already brought 350 workers to the island and it expected to have a total of 500 this week. He says it has completed critical work, including a project that will soon lead to a half million people in San Juan getting power.
The head of Puerto Rico’s government power company says the agency will scrap a $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings once it finishes current work on Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
Power company director Ricardo Ramos said Sunday that he’s bowing to a demand by the U.S. territory’s governor, Ricardo Rossello.
Ramos says the cancellation will delay work by 10 to 12 weeks.
The contract for the small Montana company has come under intense scrutiny, and audits of the Whitefish contract at a local and federal level are under way.
Roughly 70 percent of the island remains without power more than a month after Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. territory on Sept. 20.