Director of Puerto Rico energy firm resigns amid blackouts, controversial contract

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The director of Puerto Rico’s energy firm resigned on Friday amid ongoing blackouts and scrutiny of a contract awarded to a small Montana-based firm to badist rebuild the electrical grid destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority mentioned Ricardo Ramos offered his letter of resignation to the corporate’s board efficient instantly. Ramos mentioned in a quick video posted on Twitter Friday night that it was a really private determination and that it had nothing to do with any points lined by the media.

“The focus has to remain on restoring the electrical system,” he mentioned as he thanked his energy firm crews and those who had arrived from New York and Florida.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello briefly instructed reporters that Ramos is an expert who labored laborious to carry energy again to Puerto Rico, however that “there were a series of distractions, and a decision was taken to go in another direction.”

“That resignation was taken … in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico,” he mentioned.

Hours after the resignation, Rossello really useful that the board appoint Justo Gonzalez, the corporate’s energy technology director, as interim director.

Earlier this week, Ramos testified earlier than a U.S. Senate committee a few $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings that has since been canceled. The contract is present process an area and federal audit.

Prior to the announcement of Ramos’ resignation, native newspaper El Vocero had reported on Friday that Ramos had awarded a virtually $100,000 contract to an lawyer for consulting work simply days after Hurricane Irma brushed previous Puerto Rico. It was the identical lawyer Ramos beforehand had tried to nominate as sub-director of the facility firm. Rossello mentioned that contract additionally might be reviewed.

Ramos mentioned in a Facebook put up printed on Friday earlier than his resignation that the contract was official.

“Absolutely nothing was done outside the law,” he mentioned.

Ramos acknowledged errors Tuesday because the utility sought speedy badist in the aftermath of the storm, which destroyed the island’s energy grid.

Whitefish was one among solely two firms that provided speedy providers, Ramos mentioned. The different firm required a badured fee of $25 million — cash the bankrupt utility with a $9 billion debt load didn’t have, he mentioned.

Lawmakers from each events criticized the facility authority for failing to hunt mutual help from different public energy suppliers — help that was provided to Florida and Texas utilities following hurricanes Harvey and Irma

More than 20 of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities stay with out energy almost two months after Maria hit the U.S. territory as a Category four hurricane. A serious blackout occurred on Wednesday simply as the federal government had introduced it had reached 50 p.c of energy technology. Two extra giant blackouts have since been reported as crews work to revive energy.

Ramos mentioned the latest blackouts have been a results of issues starting from overgrown vegetation to gasoline not being provided on time.

Rossello has mentioned he anticipates 80 p.c energy technology by finish of November and 95 p.c by mid-December. However, the U.S. Corps of Engineers has mentioned it expects 75 p.c energy technology by finish of January.

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