Puerto Rico’s Governor Calls for Whitefish Energy Contract to Be Canceled


The governor said the decision to ask New York and Florida for help was being made because the Army Corps of Engineers had not managed to get the job done in the time frame initially outlined.

Power companies traditionally engage power companies from other states for help immediately after emergencies. Mr. Ramos had said that he did not do so in this case, because the power companies were hesitant to commit at first until they were sure where Maria would make landfall. He didn’t do so afterward, because by then the Army Corps of Engineers had been tasked with the job.

Representatives of Whitefish and the Army Corps of Engineers were not immediately available to comment on Sunday.

On Friday, Whitefish said in a statement it planned to cooperate with any information requests from lawmakers, federal officials “or other appropriate governmental bodies, and look forward to the facts coming to light.”

Most of the island remain without power more than a month after Maria struck on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 hurricane.

In an interview this month, Ricardo Ramos, the chief executive of Prepa, said he had contracted with Whitefish because the company did not insist on a down payment.

Other companies, wary of Prepa’s bankruptcy, had demanded hefty sums, he said. It had also been in talks with another company, Power Secure.

Asked how a such a small company could take on such a big job, Mr. Ramos said, “Every company is small at some point in time.”

He added that the company had sent a proposal after Hurricane Irma and before Maria, as had other companies. He studied its brochure and was interested in its work in mountainous terrain.

“They told us about the assets, how many helicopters, how many crews,” he said. “They told us about their capability and we can increase — double, triple, quadruple — the size of the crews and we went ahead and mobilized them.”

The chief executive of Whitefish Energy, Andy Techmanski, said this month that the company got the contract because he was able to stay in communication with Prepa when other companies could not. He flew to Puerto Rico before the deal was signed on a “leap of faith,” he said in an interview this month.

“It was more of a scenario we were able to maintain limited communication with Prepa throughout the hurricane where perhaps others were having difficulties,” Mr. Techmanski said. “We ended up taking a leap of faith to help. I found a flight, and went into Puerto Rico right after the storm, and we were able to find and connect with the people at the power company.”

“We made a commitment to come here, we stand behind that commitment,” he said before Mr. Rosselló’s announcement on Sunday.

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