techkenyot.com
techkenyot.com November 23, 2017


Two energy companies investigated for contracts with Puerto Rico

14 November 2017, 06:13 | Glen Norman

Whitefish Is Charging Puerto Rico Hundreds Of Dollars More Per Hour Than Its Power Line Workers Make

Whitefish Energy charged Puerto Rico $319 per hour for linemen — then paid them $63 per hour: report

He also said that the cost for labor is higher because of where the job is located, which accounts for the markup in the contract with the power company, generally called Prepa. The senior power linemen from Lakeland are earning $63 an hour working in Puerto Rico, the Florida utility said.

The Times reported that Whitefish was also billing Puerto Rico?s power authority $412 for food and lodging per worker. The Whitefish contract, worth $300 million, was canceled by Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló in late October after questions arose over costs in the two-year contract.

He also asserted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helped PREPA prepare the Whitefish contract to be compliant with federal rules, something that FEMA has forcefully denied.

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"The rates in the contract were fairly negotiated between Prepa and the company and were based on the mutual knowledge about the difficulty of the work and associated risks", Chiames told the Times. PREPA compared Whitefish Energy's rates to the rates in other proposals PREPA received and determined that Whitefish Energy's rates were competitive with those other rates. They told the paper that they were making $42 an hour, plus overtime. Johnny Rodríguez Ortiz, president of the organization of retired electrical workers in Puerto Rico, acknowledged to the Times that over-inflated rates like these have been used by others in the past to cover kickbacks to corrupt officials. However, Whitefish will continue to work on the island until the end of this month. Reasons for criticism were varied. Ryan Zinke's hometown landed such a lucrative, no-bid contract.

A power line tower downed by the passing of Hurricane Maria lies on top of a house in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Army Corps of Engineers reportedly avoided hiring Whitefish because it charged twice as much as it should have.

Reports have said that FBI is investigating the deal, though the New York Times reported details of its arrangement for the first time on Sunday night.

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"We have restored power to more than 500,000 citizens, completed more than 200 miles of transmission and distribution lines, forged new access roads and mobilized more than 500 power line workers and 600 pieces of equipment to carry out this critically important work", Techmanski wrote.

As of Sunday, about 48 percent of electricity has returned.

This is the largest blackout in US history, and efforts to restore electricity provision to the Puerto Rican population were not helped by a major power line failure last Thursday, which reduced capacity to 18%. As of early Monday morning, nearly 48 percent of the island's power system was back up and running.

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