Approximately 700,000 Americans in Puerto Rico were without power on Thursday after a line repaired by a controversial Montana contractor failed, San Juan's mayor says.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted Thursday that a power line repaired by Montana contracting firm Whitefish Energy had failed, causing outages for hundreds of thousands of the island's nearly 2 million inhabitants.
Whitefish Energy previously faced heavy criticism last year after lawmakers questioned how it won its $300 million contract to restore power to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The small company, which only had 2 employees at the time of the storm, claimed it brought hundreds of linemen to the island.
Puerto Rican officials denied there was anything illegal or improper about the deal, but the island's power authority ultimately canceled it.
"Puerto Rico again with a massive power outage. Same line than before 50900. Aproximately [sic] 700k people [without] electricity," Cruz tweeted.
"This is the SAME line that was 'fixed' by Whitefish," she added.
Puerto Rico again with a massive power outage. Same line than before 50900. Aproximately 700k people w/o electricity. @DavidBegnaud— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) April 12, 2018
This is the SAME line that was “fixed” by Whitefish.— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) April 12, 2018
Millions of Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens, lost power in the days following hurricanes Irma and Maria last year, which devastated the island's energy infrastructure and caused millions of dollars in property damage.
The subsequent speed of the island's cleanup efforts has been a source of top criticism for the Trump administration.
Whitefish, which is based out of Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWatchdog: Trump official boosted former employer in Interior committee membership Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE's hometown, was placed under investigation by the FBI after the deal was made public. Zinke has denied a connection between the company's location and the lucrative $300 million contract it was awarded in the days following the hurricanes.
The company reportedly spent $150,000 lobbying Congress after the deal's publication, with the intent of protecting the company's "reputation" from critics.
“Whitefish Energy has a reputation to uphold and we felt that [lobbying firm] Foley would help us in being able to have those conversations in a productive manner,” the company said in October.