Questionable Contract for PR Power Grid Restoration- updated on 10/29

As a follow up to an earlier posting about grants and contracts at FEMA see this one: Whitefish’s No-Bid Puerto Rico Contract Spotlights Troubled FEMA Grants.

The federal agency paying for a controversial no-bid, $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid has for years received scathing reports from government auditors for how it oversees the management of similar grants.

Members of Congress from both parties have raised questions about the selection last week of Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC to lead the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s hurricane-ravaged electrical grid. The two-year-old Montana-based company had just two employees prior to beginning its work in Puerto Rico.

Update: Apparently, FEMA did not let the contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings according to this article:  In its statement Friday, FEMA clarified that it was not involved in hiring the company to restore power to the island and hasn’t provided any reimbursement to the PREPA yet for its contract with Whitefish. See: FEMA Has ‘Significant Concerns About $300 M Utility Deal. 

As of Oct. 29, it appears that the contract was let by the island’s utility co. The Governor is planning to cancel it.  What took so long to figure this out? Here is an article from Huff Post on the subject; PR’s Contract with Whitefish Is As Bad As it Looks.

1 thought on “Questionable Contract for PR Power Grid Restoration- updated on 10/29

  1. FEMA should have in place contracts that were awarded through a competitive bid process for food, water, and other supplies needed in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. However, I do understand as a result of the extreme wide spread damage caused as a result of the 2017 hurricane season, especially in Puerto Rico, the need to award non competitive contracts to assist in short term recovery efforts. Any long term recovery work, like the rebuilding of the power grid in Puerto Rico, should go through a competitive bid process. On the surface, the awarding of this non competitive contract is concerning as it appears that the firm selected does not have the required resources readily available for such a large job.

    Having witnessed first hand the work of FEMA with Hurricane Sandy, can attest to the inability of FEMA to manage grants and contracts as described in the article. While FEMA is handing out 2 billion dollars to New Orleans for questionable recovery work, it is attempting to clawback a few thousand dollars from individual storm victims of Sandy. Still firmly believe that if given the opportunity, Brock Long and his team can turn FEMA around and make it an effective agency capable of efficiently responding to crisis situations. Short term FEMA has done well responding to the three major hurricanes so hopefully that will carry over to long term recovery efforts.

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