Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, raised questions about the contract given to Whitefish Energy by Puerto Rico's power authority in an interview on Wednesday. (Photo: XiomaraASosa/Twitter)

'Too Little, Too Late': Critics Denounce Trump-Linked Energy Firm's Apology for Puerto Rico Threat

Whitefish Energy threatened to end its work on Puerto Rico's power grid in light of mayor's questions about transparency

Julia Conley

Critics were unimpressed on Thursday by an apology issued by Whitefish Energy, the small Montana-based firm that was given a $300 million no-bid contract to restore Puerto Rico's electricity grid, after it threatened San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz via Twitter.

"Lame" was the word used by Splinter News to describe the company's apology for insinuating that it would leave Puerto Rico in response to Cruz's criticism of the contract.

On Wednesday, Cruz joined congressional Democrats and a growing chorus of critics who have raised questions about the company's contract, which it was offered by the territory's electricity authority, despite employing only two people full-time when Hurricane Maria knocked out the island's power on September 20, and having no experience with a project of Puerto Rico's magnitude.

The firm is financed by a major Trump donor, and its CEO employed the son of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who hails from the town where Whitefish is based.

The mayor, who has criticized the Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria, called the company's contract "alarming" in an interview with Yahoo News.

"It seems like what the Puerto Rican people are going to be paying for, or the American people are going to be paying for, is an intermediary that doesn’t know what is at stake here and that really has to subcontract everything," Cruz said. "What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done."

"The contract should be voided right away, and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place," she added.

Whitefish declared the comments "misplaced," and issued a statement saying Cruz's criticism was "demoralizing to the hundreds of people on our team that have left their homes and families and have come here to help the people of Puerto Rico."

Contrary to the tone of the company's statement, the workers who Whitefish has brought to the island are not volunteers and are in fact being paid hundreds of dollars per hour—well over average rates—for their work.

A more threatening statement from Whitefish later on prompted Cruz to respond.

Critics responded after Whitefish apologized and said its earlier tweet did not "represent who we are."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Trump Turns to SCOTUS Over Mar-a-Lago Docs, But 'It Won't Stop DOJ'

"This is a very specific and narrow request by Trump the merits of which turn on a technical jurisdictional question, but which runs into fatal procedural obstacles long before that," said one analyst. "It's not laughable, but only because it's small."

Jessica Corbett ·

Despite Calls for Diplomacy to End War, US Confirms More Weapons Headed to Ukraine

"Are there still negotiation possibilities?" asked Noam Chomsky. "There's only one way to find out. That's to try. If you refuse to try, of course, there's no option, no possibilities."

Brett Wilkins ·

Groups Warn SCOTUS May Gut 'Foundational' Digital Rights Law

"Weakening Section 230 would be catastrophic—disproportionately silencing and endangering marginalized communities," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Report Reveals How Utilities' Climate Pledges Amount to 'Textbook Greenwashing'

Despite the passage of nearly $370 billion in renewable energy funding, the nation's utilities are squandering "a massive opportunity for clean electricity and electrification."

Julia Conley ·

$158,000 Cost for ALS Treatment Called 'A Poster Child' for Unjust Drug Pricing

"The price of the newly approved drug combination Relyvrio to treat ALS," said one critic, "is yet another clear and powerful example of unjustified high prices set by drug companies that ultimately exploit patients."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo