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Small Montana company aiding Puerto Rico power restoration under increasing scrutiny

Small Montana company aiding Puerto Rico power restoration under increasing scrutiny”

The Interior Department denied that Zinke, a former Montana congressman, played any role in the contract award.

The key - restoring electrical power to the island's 3.4 million American citizens - remains a frustrating and mysterious process with 75 percent of the island still without electricity.

Five weeks after hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump's team has only managed to restore power for a mere 26 percent of the island's 3.5 million USA citizens.

In sharp contrast, Whitefish Energy, an unproven Montana-based firm with two full-time employees that was mysteriously awarded a massive contract to rebuild the grid, has been engaging in a weird Twitter war with San Juan's mayor, even threatening to pull its subcontractors out of the island. And now, word that an itty-bitty Montana company-with ties to the White House-landed the massive contract to fix it.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Puerto Rico as they rebuild from Hurricanes Irma and Maria".

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. Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva from Arizona also said in a statement that "Congress needs to understand why the Whitefish contract was awarded".

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. Congressional lawmakers and the Puerto Rican governor have already called for an investigation into Whitefish and the award of its contract.

"In that moment, we were not in a position to offer that collateral", said Ramos. One of the secretary's sons "joined a friend who worked a summer job at one their [Whitefish's] construction sites".

PREPA, which is $9 billion in debt, could have requested aid after Maria through the American Public Power Association, a network that provides help to other utilities during widespread power outages.

CNN reports Zinke and Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski have admitted they know one another. 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. Not coincidentally, several of the top 10 blackouts in USA history involve Puerto Rico, including Maria and Irma this year and Hurricane Georges in 1998.

It is the second time that the New York Democrat has visited Puerto Rico since the storm, and he criticized the federal response.



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