The Federal Bureau of Investigation is quite busy these days. It has been reported that the FBI recently commenced an investigation into the Montana energy company that was awarded a no-bid contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The island was devastated after Hurricane Maria over a month ago. The Whitefish Energy Company received a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. So what is the problem with the Whitefish Energy Company?
It is unusual that a company with only 2 full-time staff members would be chosen to restore power to an island the size of Puerto Rico. Almost 70 percent of the island is still without power. It appears that the company has ties to the presidency through the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. The Whitefish Company is based in the hometown of Zinke, and the Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski is an acquaintance of Zinke. Furthermore, Joe Colonnetta is a donor to the Trump campaign. Colonnetta is the head of one of the major investors of Whitefish Energy.
Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello requested that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) cancel the Whitefish deal. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criticized the deal and said they would not cover the contract’s costs if it was determined to be improper. Gov. Rossello requested an investigation into the award process for the contract. At this time no wrongdoing has been discovered, but the circumstances surrounding the contract has raised many red flags. There are ongoing investigations into how the Whitefish Company obtained such a lucrative contract.
The lack of power is still costing lives. Backup generators are being used to deliver power to hospitals, but the generators are notoriously prone to failure after weeks of use. Plus, diesel fuel for the generators needs to be replenished regularly. Diabetics who need insulin may be unable to refrigerate their insulin shots. This could result in coma and even death after just one week. Another group of patients at risk are those who need dialysis on a regular basis, because a hemodialysis machine runs on electricity. Without dialysis patients may die from kidney failure. Many more may die if the electricity is not restored soon.