Whitefish Energy threatens to remove workforce from San Juan

The company tasked with repairing Puerto Rico’s electrical grid threatened to withdraw its services after the mayor of San Juan called for more transparency over its $ 300 million contract.

After Whitefish Energy bypassed a formal bidding process to secure the deal to restore the island’s power, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said in an interview with Yahoo News that the contract should be “voided right away.”

Whitefish, which had only two full-time employees at the time of the hurricane’s landfall, issued an apology Wednesday night, hours after it threatened to withdraw from Puerto Rico in response to Cruz’s criticism.

Earlier Wednesday, Whitefish tweeted, “We share the mayor’s frustration with the situation on Puerto Rico, but her comments are misplaced.”

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“Whitefish has more than 300 workers on the island and that number is growing daily. We are making progress and doing work when others are not even here. We find her comments to be very disappointing and demoralizing to the hundreds of people on our team that have left their homes and families and have come here to help the people of Puerto Rico,” the statement continued.

OCT. 15, 2017 PHOTO

Whitefish Energy Holdings workers restore power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

(Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Cruz then doubled down on her calls to question the company’s contract.

“If @WhitefishEnergy feels that asking for transparency is “misplaced”, what are they afraid we will find,” Cruz tweeted.

Whitefish Energy fired back, writing, “We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?”

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The response only added fuel to the fire as Cruz questioned the company’s motives. 

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“They are threatening not to do their job which frankly is quite irregular for a company hired to the work for the public sector,” she said.

Whitefish finally issued an apology on Wednesday night, saying its earlier comments “did not represent who we are and how important this work is to help Puerto Rico’s recovery.”

While Cruz did not respond to Whitefish directly, she retweeted several posts that maintained a defiant tone.

Among them was a response to Whitefish from Armando Valdes, who wrote, “You just don’t get it. We see you as leeches. Work is ‘important’ for you because it’ll make you millionaires while keeping us in the dark.” 

Tags:
puerto rico
carmen yulin cruz
hurricanes
hurricane maria
san juan

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