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Firm With Trump Cabinet Ties Scores $300M Puerto Rico Power Contract46:44
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With guest host Jane Clayson. 

Large swaths of Puerto Rico still don't have electricity more than a month after Hurricane Maria. And now, questions are being raised about why a tiny company with ties to the Trump administration just landed a $300 million contract to fix the island's electrical grid.

In this Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 photo, Whitefish Energy Holdings workers restore power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. (Ramon Espinosa/AP)
In this Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 photo, Whitefish Energy Holdings workers restore power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Lights out. That’s how it is for most of Puerto Rico. Still. A month after Hurricane Maria smashed through the island, wiping out its vulnerable electric grid, only 20 percent of residents have power. And now, word that an itty-bitty Montana company—with ties to the White House—landed the massive contract to fix it. A no-bid contract. A contract not authorized by the Army Corps of Engineers. This hour, On Point: Puerto Rico’s power problem.

Guests:

Steven Mufson, reporter at the Washington Post covering energy. (@StevenMufson)

Susan Tierney, senior adviser at the Analysis Group.

Melvin Felix, reporter for Univision. (@melvinjfelix)

From Tom's Reading List:

Washington Post: Small Montana Firm Lands Puerto Rico's Biggest Contract To Get The Power Back On — "For the sprawling effort to restore Puerto Rico’s crippled electrical grid, the territory’s state-owned utility has turned to a two-year-old company from Montana that had just two full-time employees on the day Hurricane Maria made landfall. The company, Whitefish Energy, said last week that it had signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to repair and reconstruct large portions of the island’s electrical infrastructure. The contract is the biggest yet issued in the troubled relief effort."

Univision: Life After Maria: Puerto Rico A Month After The Hurricane — "A month has passed since powerful hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island, but much of its ravages remain: dark streets, non-functional traffic lights, and a lack of hot food, drinking water and medical services."

Reuters: Puerto Rico, Whitefish Defend Controversial Power Contract — "Puerto Rico and Whitefish Energy Holdings on Tuesday defended their $300 million contract for the small Montana company to repair the U.S. territory’s hurricane-ravaged power grid after the deal was criticized by U.S. lawmakers."

This program aired on October 26, 2017.

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