I’d ask what was going on with the Whitefish Energy deal, but I already know. They were running some kind of scam, it appears.
Of course, they say their motives were perfectly upright, but there is a lot that just doesn’t add up.
The small, 2-year old Montana company was granted a $300 million contract to fix the wrecked electrical grid on the island of Puerto Rico. After an outrageous contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) was made public, which, among other things, prohibited the government from auditing or questioning the money they made or how it was spent, the FBI stepped in, and began to question how they managed to score this kind of contract.
New details of the contract have been released, and they are insane.
Whitefish Energy was charging PREPA $319 an hour for lineman they had hired from Florida. The thing is, that $319 wasn’t making it to the actual linemen, according to a report from the New York Times.
According to the newspaper, senior linemen from Lakeland, Fla., are earning $63 an hour as part of their contract with Whitefish. Some linemen are making $42 an hour plus overtime, while others are earning up to $100 double time.
Energy industry experts told the Times that $319 an hour is abnormally high for emergency work. Now, federal officials are looking into other contracts involving Puerto Rico, the newspaper reported.
I think that’s a really good idea.
This was a major natural disaster, and we’ve seen in the past how some companies think little of seizing on these opportunities to feed off the miseries of others.
For their part, officials with Whitefish are defending their extremely jacked up rates.
The Montana-based company has defended the amount charged. Chris Chiames, a Whitefish spokesman, said that “simply looking at the rate differential does not take into account Whitefish’s overhead costs,” according to the Times.
“We have to pay a premium to entice the labor to come to Puerto Rico to work,” Chiames told the newspaper.
I don’t think it takes that much enticement, especially when you’re getting the bulk of the profit.
PREPA eventually folded to the outrage and cancelled the contract in October, per the governor’s request.
They will continue to work on power lines until November 30, however.
Last week, it was reported that work they’d done in several cities, including San Juan, had failed, leaving large parts of those cities in the dark, once again.
So, yeah. It’s time to take a really close look at who was behind such an inexperienced, unprepared company winning such a plum contract.