Puerto Rico Governor Says Aid From New York, Florida Will Be ‘Critical’ After Whitefish Deal Scuttled

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico is calling on some old friends in the wake of the Whitefish Energy deal debacle.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told NBC News on Monday that “mutual aid agreements” with the states of New York and Florida “are going to be critical” in ongoing efforts to restore power to the hurricane-ravaged island after the fallout from the canceling of a contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings.

“I was just on the phone with Governor Cuomo who has been very helpful in this situation, as well as Gov. Scott,” he said, referring to Andrew Cuomo of New York and Rick Scott of Florida.

Rosselló said that Cuomo told him New York has “more than 100 brigades” that can be made available as soon as the agreements can be worked out, “which we are working all day today to make sure we have them as quickly as possible.”

Such interstate arrangements are common among utilities after emergencies.

Rosselló said the decision to cancel the $300 million no-bid contract with Whitefish, a small Montana company with links to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was in the best interest of Puerto Ricans and that the mutual aid agreements with states were an alternative.

The governor said that his goal was not to set back ongoing restoration efforts as a result of the move to cancel the contract. As of Monday, Puerto Rican officials said only about 30 percent of the island had power.

“My aim is not to do that — in fact quite the opposite, actually increase the urgency to getting more brigades over here,” he said. “That is why the mutual aid assistance from the state of New York and from the state of Florida are going to be critical.”




Image: PUERTORICO-US-WEATHER-HURRICANE-MARIA

Crews work to repair power transmission towers in Guayama, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 28.