(ANTIMEDIA) Puerto Rico — On Thursday, it was reported that Puerto Rico’s energy woes continue post-Hurricane Maria. A recently repaired transmission line failed, plunging more than 80 percent of the U.S. territory’s 3.4 million people into darkness — again.
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The island had reached 43 percent power generation by Thursday morning, but this latest line failure, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) confirmed, saw that figure fall to just 18 percent by the afternoon.
What’s more, the failed line — which runs from Cambalache to Manatí in the island’s north, providing power to the capital of San Juan — was one of the sections of Puerto Rico’s power grid that Whitefish Energy repaired. The small Montana firm’s contract drew heavy criticism last month.
A November 3 press release from Whitefish highlighted the repair work the company did for the island, citing “[m]ore than 10 miles from Cambalache transmission center to Manati (line 50100).”
In addition to being virtually unknown in its field, Whitefish being awarded a $300 million contract from PREPA in late September raised questions due to the fact that the company is headquartered in the hometown of Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.
Due to the controversy, PREPA canceled the contract in late October, and the FBI is currently investigating the situation. As to the current line failure, the company claims innocence. In a statement to Buzzfeed News, Whitefish spokesperson Brandon Smulyan said on Thursday:
“None of the issues reported today with the outage have anything to do with the repairs Whitefish Energy performed.”
A different company spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that PREPA is doing repair work with the help of Whitefish because the firm had nothing to do with the failure. Regardless of who or what was at fault, as of Friday afternoon, PREPA has managed to get Puerto Rico’s power generation back up to around 40 percent.