The small company hired to help restore Puerto Rico’s hurricane-ravaged energy grid is stopping work 10 days early after the island’s public utility failed to pay the company for completed services.
Whitefish Energy CEO Andy Techmanski wrote a letter to the utility Sunday asking for payment for the work that the company’s linemen had already performed. The company decided to cut ties with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) after the company refused to pay down an $83 million bill.
“Despite Whitefish Energy’s diligence and that of its subcontractors, Whitefish Energy’s payments under the contract have been delayed,” the company wrote Tuesday in a press statement.
“[T]he outstanding invoices for work performed in October has made it impossible to continue in this manner,” the company said about the ability to complete the work laid out in the contract.
PREPA confirmed the stopped payments after receiving “a communication from one of Whitefish’s subcontractors requesting the stoppage of any payment to the company since it owed the subcontractor money.”
The contract was awarded shortly after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico. An employee with PREPA, who had a satellite phone and phone number, called Whitefish following the hurricane, according to a September report from E&E News.
PREPA apparently had access to the phone number because the company issued a request for proposals when Hurricane Irma caused minor damage to the island two weeks earlier. Whitefish was one of the few companies to respond to the request.
Officials have also scrutinized an Oklahoma company that forged a similar contract with PREPA for repairs on the island. Cobra required a $15 million down payment before the company would begin work – a provision was also included in the Cobra contract prohibiting FEMA and others from auditing the deal.
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