Published: Fri, October 27, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Why Some Want A US Energy Firm's Puerto Rico Contract Scrutinized

Why Some Want A US Energy Firm's Puerto Rico Contract Scrutinized

A Whitefish company that landed a lucrative contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico's hurricane-damaged electric transmission system took to Twitter Wednesday to respond to criticisms of the hiring process by San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. The DHS is involved because it oversees Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will pay for parts of Puerto Rico's recovery. And Whitefish founder, Andy Techmanski, confirmed to ABC News that his family knows Zinke-though the Interior Department said that "everyone knows everyone" in small-town Montana.

Critics raised suspicions on Tuesday over a $300 million no-bid contract that was awarded to a small, two-year-old private energy company to restore Puerto Rico's electrical grid. Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

Montana can confirm the House Committee on Natural Resources has been looking into the contract for a few days.

That alone made some on Capitol Hill question how such a small company got such a big contract.

A copy of the deal obtained by reporter Ken Klippenstein reveals that the government isn't allowed to "audit or review the cost and profit elements" under the agreement, allowing the company greater discretion and secrecy for how it spends the $300 million to restore power to the island.

"The size and terms of the contract, as well as the circumstances surrounding the contract's formation, raise questions regarding PREPA's standard contract awarding procedures", Reps.

The Committee of Energy and Commerce also requested more information on the contract.

Rosselló asked the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to review the contract by October 30. He's asking FEMA to complete its review of the contract by November 30.

Meanwhile, Democratic senators Maria Cantwell and Ron Wyden asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate "the potentially inflated costs of time and material in the contract relative to comparable; the opaque and limited nature of PREPA's bidding process that led to the contract; and the contemporaneous communications between Whitefish and senior members of the federal executive branch, including Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke".

"I don't want to speak for PREPA but we offered to be the general prime contractor - overall contractor - so we could collaborate with our logistic teams back in the US", Techmanski said.

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