It’s been two months since the people of Puerto Rico have had fully functioning power. However, Whitefish Energy Holdings, the small Montana firm that was supposed to be helping restore electricity to the island’s devastated power grid, has now decided to stop all work because Puerto Rico’s government has not paid crews as part of its contract.
You know, that same contract that sprouted accusations that the energy company has been billing Puerto Rico more than seven times what it actually paid the crews it’s so worried about, and which has led to a whole heap of controversy, including an FBI investigation?
According to the Associated Press, the company (which some may call Scamfish) released a statement saying that invoices for the work done in October are outstanding and it cannot continue doing its work. The newswire obtained a letter dated Nov. 19, which claimed that Puerto Rico’s government owes the company more than $83 million and that the company would suspend work Monday if it wasn’t paid.
Whitefish in its letter claimed that the lack of payment is a breach of the $300 million contract that the company had with the government. You know, the same contract Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello canceled last month? However, although the contract was canceled, both the company and the government had agreed that Whitefish would finish up the projects it had already started and remain on the island until Nov. 30.
“There is no basis for PREPA [the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] to withhold payments from Whitefish Energy,” the letter read. “We have met the terms of the contract—including completing difficult work on time and under challenging conditions.”
Puerto Rico, for its part, released its own statement saying that PREPA is reviewing and auditing Whitefish invoices, noting that the power authority was forced to stop pending payments “until the situation with Whitefish subcontractor is clarified.”
While Whitefish and Puerto Rico are still working out their issues, the people of Puerto Rico are still without any power.
More than 20 of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities remain in the dark, and overall power generation stands below 50 percent. Major blackouts also have hit the capital of San Juan and surrounding areas in recent weeks, for reasons ranging from overgrown vegetation to fuel not being supplied in time because of logistical limitations.
The hurricane hit as Puerto Rico entered its 11th year in recession and struggles to restructure a portion of its $73 billion public debt load. The power company holds about $9 billion of that debt.
Read more at the New York Daily News.