After Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico, the island had no access to clean water and electricity.
Fierce winds that were more than 140 miles per hour, destroyed power lines, power plants and transformers. Almost 3.4 million residents of the island are living without basic necessities.
Moreover nearly 80 % of the island still remains without electricity, nearly after five weeks of the Hurricane barreling the island.
As the island is still dealing with the consequences of the Category 4 hurricane, Whitefish Energy was tapped in to solve this extensive problem. According to the Washington Post, a massive $300 million contract was given to the company to restore power supply in the storm-ravaged island.
But critics of the Congress and media are now questioning the inexperienced company’s credibility and political connections.
The Montana-based company with just two employees is situated in hometown of Ryan Zinke, President Donald Trump's Interior Secretary and a former congressman. Zinke’s son also worked for the company for one summer, and the C.E.O. of Whitefish also reportedly knows Zinke.
The company’s spokesman Ken Luce said that Zinke's relationship with Whitefish's C.E.O. “had nothing whatsoever to do with the contract.”
“The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” said Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”
According to E&E News, generally, after such major disasters, state utilities start a mutual assistance program, which activates aid from power suppliers in other states. But the power authority in Puerto Rico, known as PREPA, did not take this step because of a lack of financial resources to pay those utilities back for their work.
The territory is already in debts, and PREPA only has a $100 million emergency fund, which it's drawing from to keep running.
Whitefish also subcontracted nearly 300 people in Puerto Rico to help restore the power supply in the island, and work with other urgent tasks.
Puerto Rican government is reportedly reviewing the deal, while Whitefish's continues to work.
However, just recently, the company lashed out at a mayor who was requesting for more transparency about its contract.
San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, raised pertinent questions about the mega-project, and the company lashed out at her, calling her concerns “misplaced.”
You would think I am the only one in the world that has commented on this. What is it about women having an opinion that irritates some? pic.twitter.com/XxGNLomjQy— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
They even threatened to leave the island.
We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?— Whitefish Energy (@WhitefishEnergy) October 25, 2017
Cruz also hit back highlighting their non-professionalism.
@WhitefishEnergy implies that you will not treat the City of San Juan with the diligence it deserves. Thus admitting political motivations.— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
It is rather cringe worthy, that a company tasked to solve such an intense problem is busy throwing temper tantrums on social media.
Thumbnail / Banner : Reuters, Lucas Jackson