Local officials’ handling of Puerto Rico electric grid repairs under fire
After the media frenzy surrounding the Whitefish scandal, the Director of the Puerto Rican Energy Power Authority (PREPA) resigned. After his recent testimony in front of the United States Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, the director resigned and offered up a statement where he claimed to have resigned for personal reasons that were unrelated to media coverage.
Ricardo Ramos had been the head of PREPA for about six months at the time of the hurricane. The hurricane and subsequent long term power outage, coupled with the scandal have lead to the director feeling heat from the people of Puerto Rico and the Governor. Governor Rosselló had said that the director would probably be limited in his serving capacity, since Rosselló’s goals of having the power back at 95% operational capacity were set back following a recent power outage in San Juan. Following the Whitefish scandal, the other leaders of Puerto Rico claimed that Ramos was a disgrace to the islands and had destroyed part of Puerto Rico’s credibility.
The islands have suffered a series of setbacks in restarting the power and reconnecting the people to the power grid. This has caused Puerto Rico to lose about $40 billion in economic losses . This in turn lead citizens to flee to the mainland. The blame for the Whitefish Contract fell on Ramos, who, although not the main negotiator, was responsible for the deal and faced the backlash for it. Rosselló even claimed that Ramos was a distraction from the rebuilding process. Following his resignation, Governor Rosselló nominated Justo Gonzalez to run the power authority in the interim while he searches for a replacement who will be the best fit for the program and the people.