Puerto Rico Power Crisis Deepens

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It’s a month since Puerto Rico was hit by the devastating Hurricane Maria. At the same time, parts of Puerto Rico have stayed without power as the electrical grid of the area lies in ruins. Canned food in the area has become the norm of the day while people in the region have become accustomed to flashlights and candles for lighting. Residents keep asking when the power will be back but they keep getting the same response, soon. When things looked like they were about to get better, they stalled all over a sudden when the Montana company that was charged with repairing the electrical grid was put under intense scrutiny. The company had been awarded the $300 million contract despite being a small company from Montana. The company is known as Whitefish Energy. When Whitefish was awarded the tender, concerns were raised by a number of stakeholders including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and threatened to withhold funds should it determine that the correct procedure was not followed. Then, the future of the contract was cast into serious doubts when Ricardo Rossello, Puerto Rico governor requested the board of the island to do away with the contract immediately. Some few hours later, it was confirmed that the board of the region had terminated the contract.

Critics have said that Puerto Rico should not have asked for help from mainland USA to repair the power while there were qualified companies in the region. The governor of Puerto Rico said that he made the decision to ensure that there were no distractions to the recovery process. As a result, he said that he had reached out to mainland brigades from New York and Florida to help with the issue. At the same time, he made it clear that the decision to ask for help from Florida and New York would be coordinated because the area Army Corps of Engineers was taking more time than necessary. However, neither Whitefish nor the Army Corps of Engineers could be reached for a comment. The situation had become an issue even in Washington as Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority received a letter from the House Committee on Natural Resources demanding an explanation and the documents that involved with the contract. At the same day, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying that they were investigating the issue. The governor also issued a statement saying that he had ordered an audit also.

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