This is source I found from another site, main source you can find in last paragraph
The emails raise new questions about a disaster-recovery contract that is under review by federal criminal investigators and multiple congressional panels. Prepa selected Whitefish—a startup firm based in rural Montana that had two employees when Hurricane Maria hit—as the general contractor for repairing the storm’s damage without a competitive bidding process.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló canceled the deal last month under criticism from members of Congress and local politicians over how it was awarded and priced. The controversy has galvanized Congress to examine the U.S. territory’s management of federal disaster-assistance dollars and its safeguards against waste and corruption.
With millions of Puerto Ricans still without reliable power, unresolved questions around the deal could figure into an ongoing struggle for control of the reconstruction efforts between local and federal officials.
Hurricane Maria devastated Prepa’s electrical grid, knocking out power to all of its customers. With Whitefish’s help, Prepa has restored 48.7% of its generation capacity, according to government data. The Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held separate hearings Tuesday on financial transparency in the recovery process.
Records released by the Natural Resources Committee show that Greenberg Traurig recommended adding numerous provisions to the Whitefish contract to protect Prepa’s interests. Yet a contract amendment signed on Oct. 17 didn’t require a performance bond, didn’t break out predefined rates for time and materials and didn’t specify Prepa’s damages from a contract breach, according to the committee.
The committee received more than 2,000 documents from Greenberg Traurig and said it expects to receive more. A Federal Emergency Management Agency attorney noted in the emails that the contract was missing provisions required for FEMA reimbursement.
Emails included in the trove also show Whitefish Chief Executive Andy Techmanski asking Prepa purchasing manager Ramon Caldas on Sept. 24 if “you or your families need anything” including generators, water or food.
An unredacted version of this email, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that Mr. Techmanski included individuals with his firm’s private-equity backers, HBC Investments and Flat Creek Capital LP, in the correspondence. On Sept. 26, less than a week after Maria made landfall, Whitefish and Prepa entered into their first contract, signed by Mr. Caldas.
A Whitefish spokesman said Mr. Techmanski “did what any decent human being would do in offering to bring water and other supplies given the situation on the island. To be clear, while he made the offer, nothing was provided.”
The contract amendment signed three weeks later increased hourly labor rates by approximately 50%, according to the Natural Resources Committee. The company said it had to pay a premium to entice workers to leave projects in the mainland U.S., where they already were earning overtime. For storm work, Whitefish’s union contract requires paying overtime wages at all times, and “there are no market prices” given the strenuous working conditions, the spokesman said.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) criticized what she called “exorbitant, gouging rates” and questioned why Prepa didn’t activate mutual-aid agreements with other utilities that are designed to repair storm damage without a profit element. The Whitefish spokesman said its first contract passed through expenses such as fuel, housing, food and shipping at cost plus 30% to cover overhead, rates that Whitefish said Prepa determined to be reasonable compared with other proposals it received.
“Even basics like finding housing for workers required enormous efforts to arrange clean and safe accommodations,” the spokesman said. Whitefish started working before any other contractor that mobilized to the island, according to the company.
But the released documents suggest that Whitefish struggled with aspects of its mobilization and ran into problems shipping heavy equipment from Jacksonville, Fla., resorting instead to costlier flights to move 100 pieces that were sitting idle at the airport. Mr. Caldas approved the added flight costs, writing that “we don’t have time to waste.”
Whitefish still has more than 500 employees and subcontractors on the island, and those workers have run 200 miles of transmission and distribution lines. Prepa is expected to continue paying Whitefish through the end of the month while it completes a critical transmission path from the island’s energy-producing south to its populous, power-consuming north. It isn’t clear how many of Whitefish’s subcontractors may stay in Puerto Rico once its contract expires under new agreements with Prepa or the Army Corps of Engineers.
Prepa Executive Director Ricardo Ramos, who unexpectedly canceled a scheduled appearance in Congress last week, testified Tuesday that he viewed Whitefish as a “first responder” and said he knew of no kickbacks or other improper payments surrounding the deal.
The Oct. 17 contract put a $300 million cap on Whitefish’s payment that covered lineman brought to the island under subcontracts for more than $300 an hour. Relying on a private entity as general contractor following a natural disaster is unusual, according to utility experts. It is more common to activate mutual-aid agreements with other utilities, which also typically provide overtime pay for workers with the assisting utility.
“We should have said, ‘Why are we paying exorbitant rates?’ ” Sen. Cantwell said. “The notion that someone comes in there to gouge the Puerto Rican government and the U.S. taxpayer, charging an exorbitant rate and then writing a contract so it can’t be reviewed properly, was an injustice.”
Prepa officials previously told the Journal that Whitefish was in a position to mobilize workers more quickly and made fewer logistical demands on the utility, such as providing lodging and food for subcontracted crews. Mr. Ramos asked the American Public Power Association and the Edison Electric Institute to send 600 line workers and heavy equipment to Puerto Rico on Oct. 31, two days after the governor ordered the Whitefish contract canceled.
“Prepa did not go that route as they stated because they had timing issues and money issues,” Gov. Rossellò said.
The federal oversight board supervising Puerto Rico’s finances is vying with the governor for control of Prepa following the Whitefish controversy. Congress installed the board last year to manage the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s $73 billion in debt, reform its economy and reverse years of population loss.
A federal judge on Monday barred the oversight board from wresting control of the utility, saying it had no such power under the terms of Puerto Rico’s federal rescue package to appoint an emergency manager and assume control of day-to-day operations.
Congress is debating the oversight board’s role in Puerto Rico’s recovery. Natalie Jaresko, the board’s executive director, has asked lawmakers to elevate its authority above the governor’s and suggested in congressional testimony last week that Congress condition Puerto Rico’s federal assistance dollars on an expansion of board powers.
The governor on Monday requested $94 billion in federal disaster aid to cover reconstruction costs. The price tag for rebuilding housing is $31 billion, and electrical infrastructure will cost another $18 billion to repair, he said in a letter to President Donald Trump.
Gov. Rossellò testified that handing control of federal recovery funding to the oversight board was “completely unnecessary” and shouldn’t displace the discretion of elected officials in Puerto Rico. He criticized the Army Corps of Engineers for not bringing additional utility crews to Puerto Rico more quickly and said the board would begin reviewing contracts over $10 million to address its concerns about effective procurement.
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R., Utah) supported Puerto Rico’s $94 billion request but said it had “a tremendous credibility gap, based on Whitefish and other decisions.”
Write to Andrew Scurria at Andrew.Scurria@wsj.com
This is source I found from another site, main source you can find in last paragraph
Source : https://www.wsj.com/articles/puerto-rico-utility-spurned-advice-on-whitefish-deal-1510668743