This sounds almost like a Harry Reid/Obama “green” energy deal. Or a Bush Iraq infrastructure deal. And if there is a place where the climate is ripe for cronyism right now it is Puerto Rico. Cronyism loves chaos. It is in the fog that some of the juiciest deals are done.
We’ll see if the deal with Whitefish was this kind of deal. Given that we are talking about Puerto Rico, an island with a long reputation for corruption, it is certainly possible.
Last week, a tiny company in Montana called Whitefish Energy Holdings announced that it had been given a $300 million contract with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to help restore electricity on the island, which was severely damaged last month by Hurricane Maria. As we reported, that deal was met with surprise and suspicion from many: The project is enormous, and Whitefish is a two-year-old firm that until recently had just two full-time employees.
The full text of the Whitefish contract is now publicly available, so all of its terms can finally be assessed. Reporter Yanira Hernández Cabiya at Caribbean Business obtained the contract and published it online.
Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor. The contract shows those labor rates are pricey indeed: $240 an hour for a general foreman and $227 for a lineman. The per diems are also expensive: almost $80 a day for meals, and $332 a day for lodging. Employee flights are billed at $1,000 each way.
For subcontractors, the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, the prices go even higher. A general foreman costs $336 an hour and a lineman, $319.