$300 million Puerto Rico power deal now under government review

Cheryl Sanders
October 27, 2017

Whitefish Energy, a two-year old electrical utility firm, announced last week it secured a $300 million contract from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to fix and reconstruct parts of the island's electrical infrastructure.

Whitefish later posted it is committed to restoring power in Puerto Rico. Both the secretary's office and the Whitefish executive, Andy Techmanski, say this is a hometown coincidence; they deny that there was inside help in winning approval from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Colonnetta and his wife donated more than $20,000 to Donald Trump's presidential campaign and more than $30,000 to the Republican National Committee past year alone, according to a filing from the Federal Election Commission.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was back in Puerto Rico on Thursday and pledged more money for hurricane relief. The company, Whitefish Energy, said last week that it had signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to fix and reconstruct large portions of the island's electrical infrastructure.

Still. A month after Hurricane Maria smashed through the island, wiping out its vulnerable electric grid, only 20 percent of residents have power.

"Our Baltimore District professionals have a strong tradition of stepping up and supporting disaster relief missions across the country, and I'm proud that our teammates are continuing that tradition throughout the southeastern United States and US territories in the Caribbean during this particularly destructive hurricane season", said Baltimore District Commander Col. Ed Chamberlayne.

Media reports that Whitefish Energy Holdings entered the contract with PREPA to fix the utility's power grid raised questions among Democrats in Congress and others when it was disclosed that the Montana firm won the contract without a competitive bidding process.

A spokesman for Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, agreed that congressional review was needed. The other unnamed contender wanted a $25 million down payment for the work, Ramos said. Zinke's son had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site.

Separately, the financial oversight board of Prepa, Puerto Rico's indebted utility, announced Wednesday that it would name Noel Zamot, a member of the board and a retired senior military officer, to oversee the utility.

The power authority, which is facing deep financial problems of its own, says Whitefish won by claiming experience in working in hard mountainous terrain and also by not asking for money up front, as another company did.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said he did not know Whitefish or its CEO, Techmanski.

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