In Brief

Puerto Rico to cancel energy repair contract

Governor says controversy surrounding £228m agreement too ‘distracting’

The Governor of Puerto Rico has said he will cancel a controversial £228m contract with Whitefish Energy to rebuild the island’s power grid, citing controversy over the manner in which the contract was awarded.

Questions have been raised about how Whitefish Energy, a company that had just two employees when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, was able to secure the contract.

“The contract was given to Whitefish Energy, which has little experience of work on such a scale, without a public bid process,” the BBC reports. “Several inquiries are under way.”

The decision comes two days after the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) criticised the deal, denying it had endorsed the contract despite claims by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to the contrary.

“Fema said it had ‘significant concerns’ and warned that it might refuse to cover the costs of the contract if it was found to be improper,” the The New York Times says.

Governor Ricardo Rossello said: “As a result of the information that has been revealed and the need to protect the public interest, as governor I am asking the power authority to cancel the Whitefish contract immediately.” 

The deal, “which was signed shortly before the hurricane hit, is also being audited at the local and federal level,” The Guardian says.

Cancellation of the contract requires a 30-day notification period, during which Whitefish Energy is expected to complete any work currently underway. Up to 70 per cent of the island is still without power.

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