This October 15, 2017, photo shows workers from Whitefish Energy Holdings restoring electric cables in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico struggles to untangle itself from Whitefish

Puerto Rico struggles to untangle itself from Whitefish

Governor Ricardo Rosselló described work done on the grid by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as "simply unacceptable," adding that the military team had shown "no sense of urgency."

This October 15, 2017, photo shows workers from Whitefish Energy Holding...
This October 15, 2017, photo shows workers from Whitefish Energy Holdings restoring electric cables in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

SAN JUAN—After ousting the main energy company hired to restore electricity to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, the island’s top elected official is now warning that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is falling down on the job.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló described the work done on the grid by the Corps as "simply unacceptable,” adding that the military team had shown "no sense of urgency."

"They haven’t done a good job on the energy grid," Rosselló told Jorge Ramos in an exclusive interview for his new show, "The Real America," premiering Nov. 21 on Fusion.

The Army Corps of Engineers said it’s doing is best to address the energy crisis.

"We understand the frustration by the Governor of Puerto Rico and realize the importance of restoring power as quickly as possible," Jose Sanchez, director of the Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Power Restoration, told Fusion in an email. "We continue to expedite the delivery of crews, material and equipment to the island in support of this urgent effort. We will not be satisfied until the people of Puerto Rico have safe and reliable power."

FEMA tasked the Army Corps of Engineers with rebuilding the island's energy grid in late September, several weeks before the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) hired Whitefish and Cobra Acquisitions to help accelerate the restoration process. The two private firms were awarded contracts totaling $500 million to work "in coordination" with The Corps of Engineers.


Cobra’s three-month, $200 million contract has raised some eyebrows in Puerto Rico, where you can spend days driving around the capital without spotting a single utility crew working to fix downed power lines and broken poles. The young firm, a subsidiary of Oklahoma-based Mammoth Energy Services, is only a year old and already charging salaries of $4,000 a day in Puerto Rico, according to daily El Nuevo Dia.

But any concerns about Cobra Acquisitions have been dwarfed by the uproar caused by Whitefish. The unusual contract, awarded to the two-man Montana firm with ties to the Trump administration, has already prompted several independent investigations, and even an FBI inquiry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Whitefish signed its no-bid contract with Puerto Rico’s energy authority two weeks after President Trump visited the island and threw paper towels at storm victims.

Governor Rosselló, who claims he had nothing to do with approving the contract, recently caved to local and international pressure and called for the cancellation of the contract on Oct. 29. The termination process will take at least 30 days, and could cost Puerto Rico untold millions in additional “demobilization costs” after already paying Whitefish $8 million to get up and running on the island.

Interestingly enough, Rosselló doesn’t blame any of the mess on Whitefish. While he’s very critical of the Army Corps of Engineers, the governor says he doesn’t want to jump to judgment on Whitefish before the investigations are complete. Rosselló says the only reason he’s terminating the contract is because the scandal became “an enormous distraction” that was preventing Puerto Rico from focusing on the job of restoring the power grid.

Rosselló is even trying to keep Whitefish workers on the island after the company leaves. The governor said he’s working on mutual-aid agreements with the governors of New York and Florida that would allow many of the Whitefish work crews to get rehired and continue working on Puerto Rico’s energy grid under new management.

"They’re already here they have a lot of knowledge about what’s going on," the governor said of the 350 sub-contracted Whitefish workers already on the island. "It is in our best interest to keep them over here."

He says the decision to terminate the $300 million contract shouldn’t present any setbacks to rebuilding Puerto Rico's electricity grid, which is now 30 percent restored, hitting its goal for Oct. 31. The next goal is 50 percent by the end of November, and then 95 percent by Dec. 15.

Not everyone is as optimistic. San Juan’s outspoken Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been calling for the nullification of the Whitefish contract for a week, joked that, after signing the contract in the first place, the head of Puerto Rico’s power authority should leave the island along with the company.

“Maybe he can get a job at Whitefish and they’ll have three employees instead of two,” Cruz said with a laugh.

Watch Jorge Ramos’ full half-hour special on Puerto Rico on the “The Real America” premiering Nov. 21 on Fusion.

Immigrants advocacy groups report 300 shootings aboard the train known as the The Beast. Migrant victims point to security guards hired by the government.
They grew up in Chicago and their husbands, the Flores twins (aka ‘Los Mellizos’), worked for the Sinaloa cartel. The twins later became DEA informants in Mexico who helped bring down El Chapo Guzman. They have written a book, Cartel Wives, telling their story as a lesson to others not to fall for the narco life, and they regret what they put their families through. "Our fathers put on their suit of armor and their badge, and they are going out there on the streets of Chicago,” Mia confesses. “It’s the very same streets that our husbands were flooding with drugs.”
The Rio Abajo bridge was swept away leaving the town of Utuado cut off. Neighbors engineered a pulley system to haul supplies over the river but they wonder when their lives will return to any semblance of normality.
A scene form the new documentary A Long Way From Home about the desegregation of professional baseball.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz reacted to comments on Twitter by President Trump in which he said Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them."
It is estimated that there are almost as many Puerto Ricans living off the island as the 3.4 million that reside there. After Hurricane Maria, almost all communication was lost between those on the island and in the diaspora. Univision sent a reporting team to the island before Maria's arrival. Part of their job now is helping connect families.
Two reporters from Univision News followed the track of Hurricane Maria, starting from the southeast where the eye made landfall all the way to the capital. This is what they saw from the road ...
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in southeast Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million inhabitants. Maria caused rivers to flood all over the island. This video was taken in Guayama, on the south coast.
After a strong earthquake shook Mexico City, thousands of people evacuated their homes. The epicenter was 7.5 miles southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos.
Had Irma tracked 50 miles further north along Cuba's coast, the results could have been dramatically different, meteorologists say, causing devastation to the densely populated Greater Miami region. Also by tracking up Florida's west coast close to the shoreline deprived Irma of the warm Gulf water that fuels storms. Here is a compilation of the hurricane satellite images shared by NASA on social media.
The program was established in 2012 by President Barack Obama to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Nilsa Huete is an undocumented Honduran immigrant living in Key West, Florida. In the last five months, five of her family members have been arrested by agents from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Now she’s fighting against the deportation of her daughter and brother.
Christopher Barker, leader of the 'Loyal White Knights' of the Ku Klux Klan and his wife Amanda Barker discussed their views on President Donald Trump during an exclusive interview for Aquí y Ahora.
That's what Christopher Barker, leader of the KKK's 'Loyal White Knights,' told Univision's late night news anchor in an interview for Aquí y Ahora. "To me you're a ni**er," he added.
Those were the words of Christopher Barker, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan's 'Loyal White Knights' during an interview with Univision's late night news anchor, Ilia Calderon, for the show Aquí y Ahora.
During an interview with Chris Barker, a leader of Ku Klux Klan's 'Loyal White Knights,' the Univision News anchor sought answers to questions about the group's beliefs on race.
Si su licencia de conducir no tiene una estrella, quizás no pueda viajar en avión en vuelos domésticos
Se trata de los nuevos reglamentos que impone la Ley federal de Identificación Verdadera (Real ID) que busca perfeccionar la seguridad interna de la nación a través de tarjetas de identificación seguras. A partir del próximo 22 de enero, los usuarios deberán renovar las licencias si viven en uno de los 28 estados comprometidos a implementar la medida.
Preocupación ante el veto en Estados Unidos a palabras como 'feto' o 'transgénero'
La administración del presidente Donald Trump les prohibió a los funcionarios de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC), la mayor agencia de salud pública de Estados Unidos, utilizar una lista de siete palabras en documentos oficiales que estén preparando con miras al presupuesto del 2018.
Las ciencias y matemáticas son importantes, pero ¿qué pasa con las artes?
El currículo STEM inicialmente no siempre parece ser para todos los estudiantes. En muchas escuelas se incorporan las artes dentro de estas materias, incluyendo el uso de la tecnología para dar una educación más completa.
¿Cómo logró este hispano ser el primero de su familia en ir a la universidad y entrar a Princeton?
La clave para entrar a una universidad de calidad, a pesar de la falta de dinero, es que el consejero de la escuela y los padres trabajen junto con el estudiante para lograr completar una aplicación exitosa y conseguir el mayor número de becas posibles.
Al menos 300 familias necesitadas de Dallas recibirán juguetes y una cena de Navidad
Las familias seleccionadas tuvieron que llenar una solicitud, y ahora podrán beneficiarse con la cena y los juguetes para los niños, entregados con la colaboración de voluntarios y una iglesia.
El tribunal electoral de Honduras declara a Hernández presidente en un clima de confusión y entre sospechas de manipulación de votos
El Tribunal Supremo Electoral declara a Juan Orlando Hernández presidente tres semanas después de las elecciones, mientras se conocen informes de observadores internacionales que denuncian anomalías en los comicios y la oposición llama a no reconocer el nombramiento y tomar las calles.
Vigilia en Chicago a favor del 'Dream Act'
Varios dreamers se sumaron a esta manifestación para pedir al Congreso que apruebe un proyecto de ley migratorio antes de que culmine el año. Los manifestantes planean seguir con estas acciones durante la otra semana para ejercer presión a los legisladores.
Investigan posible abuso a un menor de 7 años de edad en el sur de la ciudad
Las autoridades buscan al sujeto sospechosos de haber conducido al menor a un callejón para abusar de él. La policía señaló que el pequeño logró escapar y notificar a las autoridades. 
Belleza y deporte, la mezcla perfecta en la alfombra roja de los Premios Univision Deportes
Las personalidades ya están llegando a la gala a lo mejor del mundo deportivo del 2017.
Josef Martínez, ganador de la categoría mejor Futbolista del Año en la MLS
Los Premios Univisión Deportes reconocieron al talentoso atacante venezolano del Atlanta United como mejor jugador de la Liga de fútbol de los Estados Unidos.
Rams humillan 42-7 a Seahawks en su casa y controlan la NFC Oeste
Todd Gurley anotó cuatro touchdowns en el CenturyLink Field de Seattle liderando la victoria de los Carneros de Los Ángeles.
Selección de Panamá, la Hazaña Deportiva del Año
Tras conseguir su calificación por primera vez a una Copa del Mundo, los del ‘Bolillo’ Gómez se hicieron acreedores al premio.