Power deal short-cir­cuits

The Citizen (KZN) - - WORLD - Washington

– Puerto Rico’s govern­ment power com­pany said on Sun­day it will can­cel a $300 mil­lion (R4.2 bil­lion) con­tract with a tiny Mon­tana com­pany to re­store power to the storm-hit US ter­ri­tory af­ter an up­roar over the deal.

The con­tract be­tween White­fish En­ergy Hold­ings and Puerto Rico’s bank­rupt power util­ity came un­der fire af­ter it was re­vealed last week that the terms were ob­tained with­out a com­pet­i­tive pub­lic bid­ding process.

Res­i­dents, lo­cal of­fi­cials and US fed­eral au­thor­i­ties all crit­i­cised the ar­range­ment.

The can­cel­la­tion could fur­ther com­pli­cate Puerto Rico’s most press­ing chal­lenge from the ter­ri­tory’s worst storm in 80 years – restor­ing power to its 3.4 mil­lion res­i­dents. Nearly six weeks af­ter Hur­ri­cane Maria dev­as­tated the is­land, only about a quar­ter of homes and busi­nesses have power and the util­ity has set a goal of hav­ing 95% of power back by the mid­dle of De­cem­ber.

Sev­eral other util­i­ties have been in­volved in re­cov­ery ef­forts, but White­fish said it had more than 350 peo­ple on the is­land. Also on Sun­day, Puerto Rico Gov­er­nor Ri­cardo Ros­sello said: “I am ask­ing govern­ment and en­ergy au­thor­i­ties to im­me­di­ately ac­ti­vate the clause to can­cel the con­tract to White­fish En­ergy.” –

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