Docs On Shady Puerto Rico Energy Contract ‘Add More Questions,’ GOP Congressman Says

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

GOP Rep. Rob Bishop is unsatisfied after receiving documents on a shady contract between Puerto Rico’s state-owned utility and a Montana energy firm, The Hill reports.

“There are some other circumstances within those documents that add more questions, which means at some point I would like those to be answered, and someone needs to look at that,” Bishop, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, said Tuesday in a hearing on Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

While Bishop did not elaborate on what other questions were raised by the documents, he recognized the crooked history of one of the parties involved in the contract.

“We have to deal with the Puerto Rican Electrical Power Authority, known as PREPA, which was already bankrupt, severely mismanaged with a long history of inadequate maintenance and political cronyism,” Bishop said at the hearing’s open.

A $300 million contract that PREPA awarded to Whitefish Energy to rebuild part of the island’s power grid drew scrutiny after details about the firm and its personal connections to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were publicized. PREPA, Whitefish, and Zinke have all denied allegations that the contract was negotiated in an unethical or illegal way.

The firm was only 2 years old with two full-time employees when it scored the contract, a small resume for a job paying hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, Whitefish is based in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont., and its CEO knows the Interior Secretary personally.

“We do not want another situation like Whitefish to happen again, which may have had some initial purpose to it, but the procedure was certainly suspect,” Bishop said.

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