Cantwell, Wyden Question $300 Million Contract For Whitefish Energy

Senators Request GAO Investigation To Ensure Taxpayer Resources Are Used Appropriately To Restore Electric Power In Puerto Rico

October 26, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote to Comptroller General Dodaro requesting the Government Accountability Office investigate the contract between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and Whitefish Energy Holdings.

In the letter the senators wrote, “Recent media reports in multiple publications have raised serious allegations about the nature and circumstances surrounding the letting of a $300 million contract on October 17 by PREPA, the publicly owned utility that serves the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, to Whitefish, incorporated in the state of Montana, to restore PREPA’s electric power system in the wake of Hurricane Maria.”

“Among the principal concerns raised in these reports are the potentially inflated costs of time and material in the contract relative to comparable at-cost utility mutual aid agreements; the opaque and limited nature of PREPA’s bidding process that led to the contract letting; and the contemporaneous communications between Whitefish and senior members of the federal Executive branch, including Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke,” the senators continue.

“We are intent, along with many of our colleagues in Congress, on providing the hardworking federal workers, private sector workers, utility crews, and Puerto Ricans the necessary federal resources to restore electric power immediately on the island and to rebuild the grid in a more resilient way that facilitates long-term economic growth. It is essential that as we deliver these resources we have confidence the funds are being spent wisely and cost-effectively,” said the senators. “We will rely on your investigative work and that of Inspectors General at the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to inform that confidence and any potential steps necessary to address fraudulent or otherwise inappropriate use of public money.”

The full letter can be found here.