Demand answers: Why did a tiny Montana electric company get the contract to rebuild Puerto Rico's grid?

Puerto Rico recovery
A $300 million electrical reconstruction and repair contract for Puerto Rico was recently awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny Montana-based firm from the 6,000 resident town of Whitefish -- which, coincidentally, is the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

When hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, Whitefish energy was a “two-year-old company from Montana that had just two full-time employees,” according to the Washington Post. The Post reports, “The [Puerto Rico] power authority, also known as PREPA, opted to hire Whitefish rather than activate the ‘mutual aid’ arrangements it has with other utilities. For many years, such agreements have helped U.S. utilities -- including those in Florida and Texas recently -- to recover quickly after natural disasters.”

Instead, Whitefish is serving as an unnecessary middle-man, profiting off the disaster situation.

Luis Vega-Ramos, a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, expressed outrage in an interview with The Daily Beast: “It is reprehensible that shameless profiteering is going on literally on the back of the devastated people of Puerto Rico. It is beyond contempt and people should answer for it.”

Is Zinke connecting his hometown buddies with lush government contracts at the expense of the just and sustainable recovery Puerto Ricans deserve? Is he lying about his close connections to Whitefish Energy? Tell your representatives in Congress you want answers. Send a message that Puerto Rico's recovery needs to be led by Puerto Rican people, with attention paid to equity, justice, and sustainability.

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Photo by Kris Grogan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection