Results 1 to 11 of 11
Like Tree9Likes
  • 1 Post By twitchy2.0
  • 1 Post By witchcurlgirl
  • 1 Post By CornFlakegrl
  • 3 Post By twitchy2.0
  • 2 Post By Nevan
  • 1 Post By ShimmeringGlow

Thread: Two-person, two-year-old company with no physical offices gets $300 million contract

  1. #1
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Milliways
    Posts
    57,874

    Default Two-person, two-year-old company with no physical offices gets $300 million contract

    Small Montana firm lands Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to get the power back on

    By Steven Mufson, Jack Gillum, Aaron C. Davis and Arelis R. Hernández October 23 at 9:29 PM
    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.
    Whitefish said Monday that it has 280 workers in the territory, using linemen from across the country, most of them as subcontractors, and that the number grows on average from 10 to 20 people a day. It said it was close to completing infrastructure work that will energize some of the key industrial facilities that are critical to restarting the local economy.
    The power authority, also known as PREPA, opted to hire Whitefish rather than activate the “mutual aid” arrangements it has with other utilities. For many years, such agreements have helped U.S. utilities — including those in Florida and Texas recently — to recover quickly after natural disasters.

    The unusual decision to instead hire a tiny for-profit company is drawing scrutiny from Congress and comes amid concerns about bankrupt Puerto Rico’s spending as it seeks to provide relief to its 3.4 million residents, the great majority of whom remain without power a month after the storm.

    “The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” said Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”

    PREPA’s executive director, Ricardo Ramos, and a spokesman did not respond to emails asking why the utility didn’t activate the mutual-aid network. On a tour of the idled Palo Seco power plant, Ramos told reporters that Whitefish was the first company “available to arrive and they were the ones that first accepted terms and conditions for PREPA.”

    Ramos said that the utility is “completely content” with the work Whitefish is doing. “The doubts that have been raised about Whitefish, from my point of view, are completely unfounded,” he added, saying that concerns about Whitefish were probably spread by jealous competitors.

    Whitefish officials have said that the company’s expertise in mountainous areas makes it well suited for the work and that it jumped at the chance when other firms were hesitating over concerns about payment. The company acknowledges it had only two full-time employees when Maria struck but says its business model calls for ramping up rapidly by hiring workers on short-term contracts.

    Spokesman Chris Chiames dismissed criticism about the company’s qualifications. “We are taking personal risks and business risks working in perilous physical and financial conditions,” Chiames said. “So the carping by others is unfounded, and we stand by our work and our commitment to the people of Puerto Rico.”

    Whitefish Energy is based in Whitefish, Mont., the home town of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Its chief executive, Andy Techmanski, and Zinke acknowledge knowing one another — but only, Zinke’s office said in an email, because Whitefish is a small town where “everybody knows everybody.” One of Zinke’s sons “joined a friend who worked a summer job” at one of Techmanski’s construction sites, the email said. Whitefish said he worked as a “flagger.”

    Zinke’s office said he had no role in Whitefish securing the contract for work in Puerto Rico. Techmanski also said Zinke was not involved.

    Techmanski said in an interview that the contract emerged from discussions between his company and the utility rather than from a formal bidding process. He said he had been in contact with the utility two weeks before Maria “discussing the ‘what if’ scenarios” of hurricane recovery. In the days after the hurricane, he said, “it started to make sense that there was a need here for our services and others.”
    On Thursday, Techmanski told CNN simply: “We called each *other.”

    The scale of the disaster in Puerto Rico is far larger than anything Whitefish has handled. The company has won two contracts from the Energy Department, including $172,000 to replace a metal pole structure and splice in three miles of new conductor and overhead ground wire in Arizona.

    Shortly before Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, Whitefish landed its largest federal contract, a $1.3 million deal to replace and upgrade parts of a 4.8-mile transmission line in Arizona. The company — which was listed in procurement documents as having annual revenue of $1 million — was given 11 months to complete the work, records show.

    Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of transmission lines across the island, and 30,000 miles of distribution lines with 300 substations. Jeff Hawk, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ power restoration task force, estimated that 80 percent of the grid has been damaged. A month after the storm, about 80 percent of customers remain without power.

    With the entire Puerto Rican commonwealth in bankruptcy, and the utility itself in default on $9 billion in debt, spending for the recovery is drawing scrutiny from the Trump administration and Congress. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and José Carrión, chairman of the federal oversight board created to resolve the island’s long-running financial crisis, were summoned to Washington last week for a meeting with the Office of Management and Budget.

    The House Committee on Natural Resources is examining Whitefish’s role in Puerto Rico, said Parish Braden, a spokesman for the committee. The hiring of the little-known company has been noted by the trade publications Utility Dive and E&E News.

    “The size and unknown details of this contract raises numerous questions,” Braden said. “This is one of many things the committee is taking a close look at as it continues to work with the resident commissioner, governor’s office, and oversight board to ensure Puerto Rico’s recovery is robust, effective and sustained.”

    Rosselló said Wednesday that the island would spend $490 million on the initial phase of repairing the commonwealth’s grid, adding that “a large portion of that would probably go to Whitefish” and another contractor. The utility gave Whitefish a $3.7 million initial payment for “mobilization of personnel and equipment,” the contract says. Whitefish could be paid as much as $300 million for up to two years of work.

    Under the contract, the hourly rate was set at $330 for a site supervisor, and at $227.88 for a “journeyman lineman.” The cost for subcontractors, which make up the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, is $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319.04 for a lineman. Whitefish also charges nightly accommodation fees of $332 per worker and almost $80 per day for food.

    Only eight contracts larger than $20 million have been approved for Puerto Rico by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, with half of those for shipments of food and bottled water. Whitefish’s contract surpasses the $240 million contract the Army Corps awarded to engineering giant Fluor to “augment ongoing efforts” to repair the power grid.

    The commonwealth, strapped for funds before Hurricane Maria hit, is expected to run out of cash as early as the end of the month, according to people familiar with the island’s finances. And even if the Senate and the president approve the House’s $4.9 billion aid package for Puerto Rico, the island might need more money in as little as three months.

    PREPA did not reach its agreement with Whitefish until Sept. 26, six days after the storm swept through. By comparison, the Florida utility FPL requested mutual aid before Hurricane Irma hit. The result was an army of nearly 20,000 restoration workers, including FPL employees, from 30 states and Canada at work on the first day.

    On Oct. 1, FPL had teams assembled to assess damage in Puerto Rico. It posted notices in Spanish and English on its Facebook page: “FPL is ready to help Puerto Rico.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott mentioned the offer in a news release.

    The Florida utility says it never received a reply. The Puerto Rican utility has not replied to offers of assistance from mutual-aid partners, according to the American Public Power Association, which coordinates such operations.
    Techmanski called the damage in Puerto Rico “among the worst that I have ever seen” in more than 20 years of work rebuilding power lines after storms. According to his LinkedIn page, Techmanski has held leadership roles in utility service companies based in Vancouver, Texas and California.

    “It will take months, if not years, to repair the entire grid to full operational status,” he said.

    NBC Montana quoted Techmanski in a report Oct. 1 as saying he had asked Zinke for help in getting personnel and equipment to the territory. Chiames, the Whitefish spokesman, confirmed that “Once the company got the go-ahead from PREPA on September 26 to begin work, company executives did reach out to contacts in case they could help expedite getting qualified linesmen to the island.”

    Zinke’s office said: “The Secretary always politely listens when citizens and the small business community approach him with concerns and ideas. Neither the Secretary nor anyone in his office have taken any meetings or action on behalf of this company.”
    Whitefish’s Twitter feed features videos of workers dangling from helicopters and describes its progress but also suggests the work has been challenging.

    In one post, a team was reported to have set up six concrete poles, but had “all day issues with material.” A crane showed up “broke and we had to fix it.” Equipment in a warehouse had rusted. Narrow roads were cited as a safety concern, as were “very large termite nests.”
    Techmanski said that Whitefish was focusing on fixing key transmission lines and was using helicopters and cranes to reach them. “Once we complete those, the effort’s going to move on to other transmission and distribution systems,” he said. “So we’re just ramping up and providing as many people as we possibly can.”

    Kent McNellie, an investment professional at HBC, the Texas investment firm that is now the largest financier of Whitefish, said the company’s experience reconstructing a one-mile power line destroyed in a wildfire in Washington state was more relevant to Puerto Rico’s needs than is the experience of many companies on the mainland. The span in Washington included an elevation change of about 5,000 feet, and the terrain required crews and equipment to be delivered by helicopter.
    “Most guys go up in a 30-foot bucket truck, and they can do that from Texas to New York, but you don’t need an army of bucket trucks,” McNellie said. “Andy realized you had a transmission problem and that requires 90-foot buckets, 100-foot ladders and helicopters — that’s not the typical crew you can get through mutual aid.”

    Even before the storm swept through Puerto Rico, years of neglect and mismanagement had degraded the territory’s electrical grid so badly it was “literally falling apart,” according to a consultant’s report prepared for the Puerto Rico Energy Commission.
    Nonetheless, Rosselló said recently that 95 percent of the power would be restored by Christmas.
    Techmanski is doubtful.

    “I don’t know where he got that and what information he was using,” he said. “Without doing a full assessment countrywide, I couldn’t fathom how many months, if it’s going to be two months, three months, five months. . . . We’ve been focused in the small areas that we’ve been working.”

    Hernández reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...23465#comments


    $300M Puerto Rico Contract Awarded To Tiny Firm Financed By Big Trump Donors


    By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published OCTOBER 24, 2017 10:42 AM


    A tiny Montana utility company that received a $300 million contract to help restore power to Puerto Rico after its electrical grid was devastated by Hurricane Maria is financed by major Trump donors and run by a CEO friendly with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a series of recent reports has revealed.

    The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s granting of the huge contract to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a two-year-old company that reportedly had two full-time employees when the hurricane first hit, was first reported by the Weather Channel last week.
    The Washington Post and the Daily Beast on Tuesday offered more details on the company’s backers. The Post noted that the firm is based in Zinke’s hometown and that its CEO, Andy Techmanski, is friendly with the Interior secretary, while the Daily Beast reported that Whitefish’s general partner maxed out donations to the Trump primary and general election campaigns, as well as a Trump super PAC, in 2016.

    That newly surfaced information has raised eyebrows about just why Whitefish was awarded a contract to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rico residents. The firm insists that everything is above board, with both Zinke’s office and Techmanski told the Post that the Interior secretary played no role in securing the contract.

    But as multiple publications have noted, the type of work Whitefish will be doing is usually handled through “mutual aid” agreements with other utilities, rather than by for-profit companies, especially those of Whitefish’s exceptionally small size.
    “The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department told the Post. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”

    In addition to Techmanski’s relationship with Zinke, Joe Colonnetta, partner at Whitefish and founder of HBC Investments, the private-equity firm that finances the energy company, is a significant power player in Republican politics, according to the Beast.
    Colonetta donated a total of $74,000 towards Trump’s presidential victory and $30,700 to the Republican National Committee, the Beast reported. His wife, Kimberly, separately gave $33,400 to the RNC shortly after Trump’s win, and was photographed with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson during inauguration week, per the report.
    $300M Puerto Rico Contract Awarded To Tiny Firm Financed By Big Trump Donors ? Talking Points Memo

    another article:
    https://weather.com/news/news/puerto...ower-whitefish
    panic likes this.
    As Canadian as possible under the circumstances

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    "What's traitors, precious?" -- President Gollum

  2. #2
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Acerbia
    Posts
    34,479

    Default

    Teapot dome for a new Millennium, but much dumber
    Brookie likes this.



    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.


    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

  3. #3
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Wherever my kids are
    Posts
    30,831

    Default

    Under the contract, the hourly rate was set at $330 for a site supervisor, and at $227.88 for a “journeyman lineman.” The cost for subcontractors, which make up the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, is $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319.04 for a lineman. Whitefish also charges nightly accommodation fees of $332 per worker and almost $80 per day for food.
    According to GSA rates, a journeyman electrical lineman's hourly rate should be around $41 an hour. But could go as high as $131. Below is a sample GSA schedule: (something is not right here)

    https://www.gsaadvantage.gov/ref_tex...3R20160414.PDF

  4. #4
    Elite Member CornFlakegrl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Hanging with the raisin girls
    Posts
    14,607

    Default

    at that pay rate, I'm totally willing to go to Lineman school. That is highway robbery!
    Nevan likes this.
    if you're so incensed that you can't fly your penis in public take it up with your state, arrange a nude protest, go and be the rosa parks of cocks or something - witchcurlgirl

  5. #5
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Milliways
    Posts
    57,874

    Default

    You can bet your ass the linemen aren't getting that. The company takes their scoop off the top.
    witchcurlgirl, Nevan and Brookie like this.
    As Canadian as possible under the circumstances

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    "What's traitors, precious?" -- President Gollum

  6. #6
    Elite Member Nevan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    5,397

    Default

    This has the Trump ORGANIZATION written all over it. From all that I’ve read, I swear he’s still getting regular updates about the companies that he refused to put in blind trusts like he’s required to do to be POTUS. I really think he’s been conducting business and trying to use his “brand” to further his business entities and his wealth.
    mostroop and Kittylady like this.
    "No. I love my grudges. I tend to them like little pets." -Madeline Martha Mackenzie

    Spirituality is not religion. Religion divides people. Belief in something unites them.

    Don't tell me not to worry ... worrying is what I do best!


  7. #7
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Wherever my kids are
    Posts
    30,831

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    You can bet your ass the linemen aren't getting that. The company takes their scoop off the top.
    Even though it didn't go through a competitive bidding process, I'm curious to know what kind of contract it is. Is it FFP (firm fixed price)? Or T&M, and the ceiling is $300 Million? Or IDIQ? And what kind of accounting obligations to they have? Open book?

  8. #8
    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    exiled and ostrich sized
    Posts
    20,589

    Default

    I agree the whole thing looks shady and the hourly rates seem exorbitant, but if you think about it, they will probably have to pay the workers 2-3 times the going rate to do this job. They will most likely be there for months at a time, in a devastated place with no power, no infrastructure, no food or running water. Where will they stay, sleep, shower, eat? (Which of course begs the question, why do they need $400/day per diem, it's not like they'll be put up in a nice hotel with room service.)

    I know when we've had widespread power outages due to storms, sometimes the local utility will bring in people from other states to get things up and running if it's more than a few days work and I'm sure they are paying out the nose but at least they can provide some decent local accommodations. And the workers get to go home within a week or so with a nice paycheck.
    These people don't give a fuck about YOU or us. It's a message board, for Christ's sake. ~ mrs.v ~
    ~"Fuck off! Aim higher! Get a life! Get away from me!" ~the lovely and talented Miss Julia Roberts~



  9. #9
    Elite Member ShimmeringGlow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    5,939

    Default

    Ken Klippenstein is following the money and discovered a Trump connection...


    $300 million contract to fix Puerto Rico's electricity awarded to a two-bit firm financed by a Trump donor (!) https://t.co/uBIQIIv41p

    Firm hired to restore Puerto Rico's electric grid, Whitefish LLC, is primarily financed by a private equity firm called HBC...

    HBC is run by a man named Joe Colonnetta. I checked FEC filings and found that he'd contributed large sums of money to Trump's campaign

    I found Colonnetta contributed...
    -$20k to Trump Victory PAC
    -$27k (max amount) to Trump's general campaign
    -$27k (max) to Trump's primary
    OCD likes this.

  10. #10
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Acerbia
    Posts
    34,479

    Default

    Whitefish energy is in a twitter fight with the mayor of San Juan, responding to charges of favoritism by rhetorically threatening to stop working.

    So many books are going to be written about this disaster response.



    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.


    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

  11. #11
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    2,744

    Default

    Yeah there's something very stinky going on with Whitefish.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Ex-Miss Nevada signs $2 million dollar contract
    By Daphne in forum Gossip Archive
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: January 16th, 2007, 08:18 PM
  2. Replies: 12
    Last Post: February 4th, 2006, 06:04 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •