SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico is looking on some outdated mates within the wake of the Whitefish Vitality deal debacle.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló advised NBC Information on Monday that “mutual badist agreements” with the states of New York and Florida “are going to be crucial” in ongoing efforts to revive energy to the hurricane-ravaged island after the fallout from the canceling of a contract with Whitefish Vitality Holdings.
“I used to be simply on the telephone with Governor Cuomo who has been very useful on this state of affairs, in addition to Gov. Scott,” he mentioned, referring to Andrew Cuomo of New York and Rick Scott of Florida.
Rosselló mentioned that Cuomo advised him New York has “greater than 100 brigades” that may be made out there as quickly because the agreements might be labored out, “which we’re working all day in the present day to ensure we’ve them as shortly as doable.”
Such interstate preparations are frequent amongst utilities after emergencies.
Rosselló mentioned the choice to cancel the $300 million no-bid contract with Whitefish, a small Montana firm with hyperlinks to Inside Secretary Ryan Zinke, was in one of the best curiosity of Puerto Ricans and that the mutual badist agreements with states have been another.
The governor mentioned that his purpose was to not set again ongoing restoration efforts on account of the transfer to cancel the contract. As of Monday, Puerto Rican officers mentioned solely about 30 p.c of the island had energy.
“My purpose will not be to try this — actually fairly the other, truly improve the urgency to getting extra brigades over right here,” he mentioned. “That’s the reason the mutual badist help from the state of New York and from the state of Florida are going to be crucial.”
Rosselló additionally reiterated criticism of the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers for not badembly its energy restoration targets. The company, which was not concerned within the Whitefish deal, has been tasked with serving to the Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority (PREPA) with instant energy restoration efforts.
Throughout a information convention later Monday, Rosselló mentioned mutual badist was not introduced in earlier as a result of the indebted energy authority was given the choice of going with the Military Corps with a 100 p.c cost-sharing plan. He mentioned the company proposed to have a lot of grid again inside 45 days.
“I’ve to say that there’s little or no motion on the a part of the Corps of Engineers to raise this power grid,” he mentioned.
“It’s 30 days after signing the contract and we’ve seven brigades from the Corps of Engineers right here in Puerto Rico proper now. Evaluate that to 410 brigades from the facility authority working with the group,” he mentioned.
The top of Puerto Rico’s energy authority moved on Sunday to cancel the controversial contract with Whitefish Vitality simply hours after the governor urged the board to scrap the deal.
Associated: Puerto Rico Energy Authority Strikes to Cancel Whitefish Contract
Criticism had mounted over how and why the corporate from a landlocked state secured the most important contract to revive energy to the island. Firm CEO Andy Techmanski is from Whitefish, Montana, the hometown of Secretary Zinke. Techmanski has denied that Zinke or anybody else within the Trump administration had something to do along with his securing the contract.
And Zinke mentioned in a press release Friday that “I had completely nothing to do with Whitefish Vitality receiving a contract in Puerto Rico” and any recommendations of involvement or affect “are utterly baseless.”
However a press release from his workplace acknowledged that the Zinke and the Techmanski households know one another as a result of Whitefish is a small city and Zinke’s son had even labored a summer time job at one of many firm’s building websites.
Associated: Energy Returns in Utuado, Puerto Rico
Techmanski disputed studies that Whitefish solely had two full-time staff when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, saying the corporate had 20 to 40 full-time staff working tasks in Arizona, Montana and Washington State.
Whitefish Vitality mentioned in a press release Sunday night that it was “very dissatisfied” that the governor had requested PREPA to cancel the contract and that the choice “will solely delay what the individuals of Puerto Rico need and deserve — to have the facility restored shortly in the identical method their fellow residents on the mainland expertise after a pure catastrophe.”
Officers from each events and lawmakers on the bottom in Puerto Rico had referred to as for an investigation into the deal, which is being audited at each the native and federal degree.
Whitefish spokesman Ken Luce confirmed Monday to NBC Information that it had employed the lobbying agency Foley & Lardner to characterize it in Washington. The principle lobbyist shall be Dennis Cardoza, a former Democratic congressman from California.
PREPA CEO Ricardo Ramos mentioned Sunday afternoon that the cancellation won’t cease any work the corporate presently has in progress, however may delay different grid-restoration efforts by 10 to 12 weeks. He additionally mentioned it could price PREPA extra cash to get out of the contract.
Puerto Rico has already paid the corporate greater than $10 million, Ramos mentioned.
On Sunday, Rosselló mentioned he had initiated the method of shifting ahead with mutual badist packages with the states of New York and Florida.
A spokeswoman with the American Public Energy Affiliation, which helps coordinate the mutual badist community among the many nation’s public energy utilities, mentioned Monday that the group had not but acquired a request for mutual badist from Puerto Rico however that territories may work immediately with native governments to safe that badist.
“We have now undoubtedly provided badist, however we couldn’t truly start to activate something till we knew the specifics, knew what they wished, et cetera,” mentioned Meena Dayak, vp of built-in media and communications with the APPA.
Gabe Gutierrez reported from San Juan, and Daniella Silva from New York.