Puerto Rico governor demands problematic energy deal be scrapped

Puerto Rico's Frantic Search for Someone to Turn on the Lights

The per diems are also expensive: nearly $80 a day for meals, and $332 a day for lodging. A general foreman costs $336 an hour and a lineman, $319.

"As soon as this whole issue was interpreted by the tabloids that PREPA has given away $300 million to a company with little experience.if you read that, and you have no light and no water that perception changes abruptly to the extent that the last four days they´ve been throwing stones and bottles" at workers, Ramos said. But that would most likely have required assurances of payment, and PREPA has been bankrupt since July.

The company did not immediately return BBC News' request for comment on the governor's statement.

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The governor also announced the appointment of an outside co-ordinator to oversee the power company's purchase and contracting division.

The controversy over the no-bid contract previously set off a Twitter feud between the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, and the company, which is based in Whitefish, Montana, the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez, a New York Democrat born on the island, who has been active in pushing for resources for Puerto Rico's recovery, said Zamot's appointment is "completely appropriate" because PREPA chose to forgo mutual aid agreements with other power authorities - a type of voluntary partnership that allows for companies to easily share resources to get power up and running as quickly as possible after a disaster - and hire Whitefish. "Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless". Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the federal government had no role in the process that led to awarding the contract.

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Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said that the contract was a distraction after critics in the electric power industry, Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency raised questions about whether the company, Whitefish Energy, was well equipped to respond to the hurricane damage. There will be a separate audit by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General's Office.

Two days later, FEMA was also distancing itself from Whitefish saying, it "has significant concerns with how PREPA procured this contract and has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable". "FEMA was not involved in the selection".

Congressional Democrats are calling for an investigation into how Whitefish got the contract. In a bipartisan letter signed by leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, congressmen are seeking documents from Whitefish and asked for a briefing before committee staff by early November.

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The board had to do something: With so many people without power, PREPA is facing heavy criticism for having given the main restoration contract - worth up to $300 million - to Whitefish Energy, a tiny Montana firm with no history of executing on projects of this scale.

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