Puerto Rico drops $300 Million Contract


Sarah Rogers, Staffer

Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with one of the worst hurricanes that has ever hit the country. These hurricanes completely destroyed the island and left them with an 85 percent power loss. To restore the crippled power grid in Puerto Rico a company from Whitefish, Montana said that they could restore the power grid and bring back power to Puerto Rico. The contract is the biggest yet issued in the troubled relief effort. This was an unusual contract to hire a tiny, three person company, and was being criticized from Congress amid concerns about Puerto Rico’s spending. A month after the storm, the islands 3.4 million residents are still off the power grid.

Whitefish officials said that the company’s expertise makes it well suited for the damage that has happened to Puerto Rico. Whitefish acknowledged that it had two full time employees when the hurricane struck, but hundreds of Puerto Rican people have been hired to restore the grid. Whitefish said that it has 280 workers on the island, by using linemen from across the country and that the number keeps on growing  from 10 to 20 people a day. They said they were close to completing infrastructure work that will energize some of the key industrial facilities that are critical to restarting the local economy.

Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Rossello, moved to cancel this contract with Whitefish. He said the island’s government had the right to cancel the project through an escape clause in the contract. The Federal Emergency Management Agency ​also ​raised the question about how Whitefish got the deal and whether the prices were reasonable. Instead of using Whitefish, Rosello insisted that power crews from New York and Florida should come help survey and restore the power grid.

It’s now almost been two months since the disastrous hurricane struck the island of Puerto Rico. As one of its worst in history it brought 160 plus mph winds, as well as torrential rain and flooding. The center of a nearly Category five hurricane made a direct hit on Puerto Rico, lashing the island with wind and rain for longer than 30 hours. Seven weeks later, half of the island still does not have power and clean food and water.