The Wall Street Journal: Whitefish halts Puerto Rico power repairs over $83 million in unpaid bills

Workers from Montana-based Whitefish Energy Holdings help fix Puerto Rico’s power grid in October.

The company hired to repair Puerto Rico’s electrical grid stopped working Monday over $83 million in unpaid bills while some utility crews from the mainland U.S. quit the half-finished reconstruction job altogether.

A Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC spokesman said the company suspended its work after Puerto Rico’s public power company delayed making payments under a controversial $300 million contract to rebuild power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico canceled the deal with Whitefish last month on orders from Gov. Ricardo Rosselló amid a political furor over how the contract was awarded and priced. But Whitefish had been scheduled to remain working until Nov. 30 when its contract terminated.

With invoices piling up, four Florida-based utilities working as Whitefish subcontractors have now elected to leave Puerto Rico rather than continue under new agreements with the public utility known as Prepa. The work stoppages will likely set back the process of restoring power to the majority of Puerto Ricans who still lack reliable service on the two-month anniversary of Maria’s landfall.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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