Puerto Rico governor calls for cancellation of Whitefish contract

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello calls for cancellation clause to be invoked for the US$300 million S($410 million) contract with Montana-based Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny company based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

WASHINGTON DC, UNITES STATES/ PUERTO RIC (REUTERS) - Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosello called on Sunday (Oct 29) for an immediate cancellation of the government contract with a tiny Montana-based energy company Whitefish Energy Holdings to bring electricity back to his devastated island.

Rossello says: "My petition to the board is to immediately invoke that cancellation clause for Whitefish and for us to move on."

Whitefish Energy Holdings is based in Whitefish, Montana, the hometown of US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

How the tiny two-person company scored a US$300 million (S$403 million) contract on the other side of the continent with no competitive bidding process has been under increased scrutiny in recent weeks, with Democrats charging political cronyism.

Zinke denied having anything to do with the contract, despite the company's location and the fact Zinke's son once worked for the company.

The contract itself was leaked last week, and included a clause that barred any government review of the deal.

In a statement to reporters, Rossello said: "Following the information that has emerged, and with the goal of protecting public interest, as governor I am asking government and energy authorities to immediately activate the clause to cancel the contract to Whitefish Energy."

Puerto Rico's power company complied later in the day, saying the contract will end once Whitefish's current work is done.

Most of Puerto Rico is still without power several weeks after getting rocked by Hurricane Maria. President Trump has praised his administration's response to the disaster.