Quantcast

Two-Person Company Gets $300 Million Contract to Restore Puerto Rico's Power Grid, Raising Questions

Popular
Whitefish Energy Holdings, LLC / Facebook

Bipartisan lawmakers expressed concern Tuesday over the contract to restore Puerto Rico's power grid being given to a tiny energy firm from Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's hometown.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority signed a $300 million contract last week with two-year-old Montana-based Whitefish Energy, which employed only two people when Hurricane Maria hit the island last month.


Whitefish is tasked with restoring more than 100 miles of transmission lines on the island, where 75 percent of the population remains without power. Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee are pushing for a "full investigation" into the contract, while House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) told reporters he has "questions" about the bid selection process.

As reported by the New York Times:

"'Absolutely outrageous,' said Eduardo Bhatia, a Puerto Rican opposition senator who wrote an energy law in 2014. 'A two-employee company from Whitefish, Mont., gets a $300 million contract out of nowhere? Based on what?'

Mr. Bhatia said the authority did not appear to have made any open requests for proposals, to have performed any regular background checks or to have followed normal safeguards and checks before awarding the contract.

The House Committee on Natural Resources said on Tuesday that it was looking into the contract. Parish Braden, the committee's communications director, said that members of the panel would travel to Puerto Rico this week to seek more answers about the details of the contract and how it was reached."

"Congress needs to understand why the Whitefish contract was awarded and whether other, more cost-effective options were available," Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., the senior Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

The BBC reported that "questions have been raised about whether political donations made to President Donald Trump's campaign and allied groups could have influenced the decision.

A review of federal election data showed that a founding partner in HBC Investments, one of the two Texas firms that backs Whitefish Energy Holdings—had donated $2,700 to Mr. Trump's presidential campaign, as well as $20,000 to a group that supported the White House bid."

For a deeper dive:

New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, BBC, The Hill, Reuters

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Oregon Senate Chamber. Cacophony / CC BY 3.0

Six days after Republican Oregon Senators fled the state to avoid voting on a bill to address the climate crisis, the Senate president declared the bill dead.

Read More Show Less
Artist's conception of solar islands in the open ocean. PNAS

Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Marcos Alves / Moment Open / Getty Images

More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?

EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."

Read More Show Less
View of downtown Miami, Florida from Hobie Island on Feb. 2, 2019. Michael Muraz / Flickr

The Democratic candidates for president descended upon Miami for a two-night debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Any candidate hoping to carry the state will have to make the climate crisis central to their campaign, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A pumpjack in the Permian Basin. blake.thornberry / Flickr

By Sharon Kelly

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Craig K. Chandler

The federal government has available to it, should it choose to use them, a wide range of potential climate change management tools, going well beyond the traditional pollution control regulatory options. And, in some cases (not all), without new legislative authorization.

Read More Show Less
Denis Poroy / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

Processed foods, in their many delicious forms, are an American favorite.

But new research shows that despite increasing evidence on just how unhealthy processed foods are, Americans have continued to eat the products at the same rate.

Read More Show Less