It’s been over a month since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico leaving many still trying to pick up the pieces of what’s left. The storm destroyed the power grid on the island and many are still without power. In effort to restore power, the territory’s state-owned utility has turned to a tiny two-year-old firm based in Montana. How small are we talking about? Apparently, the company had just two full-time employees on the day Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The company, Whitefish Energy, said it has signed a $300 million contract with Puerto Rico Electric Power.
This contract is Puerto Rico’s biggest in effort to bring relief to the territory. Whitefish said Monday that it now has 280 workers consisting of linemen from all across the country. According to the company, most are subcontractors, and that figure grows on average of 10 to 20 people a day. With such a big task at hand to restore the entire power grid, the company has said it is close to completing infrastructure work that will first provide energy to important industrial facilities critical to restarting the local economy.
Although Whitefish, Montana is the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Zinke has assured this role as Interior secretary played no role in securing the electrical contract. According to Washington Post, here’s how the figures add up under the contract: the hourly rate is set at $330 for a supervisor on site, and at $227.88 for what they call a “journeyman lineman.” A large chunk that makes up the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce is subcontractors. For that reason, a rate for subcontractors is set at $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319.04 for a lineman. Whitefish will also be in charge of nightly accommodations with an average of $332 per worker and almost $80 per day for food.