The 2-person Montana company Whitefish Energy just lost its $300M contract to fix Puerto Rico's grid


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/30/70pct-of-pr-has-no-power.html


#2

Trump: draining the swam so slow predators can roam free.


#3

They haven’t taken down their “Help Wanted” sign yet.

https://www.whitefishenergy.com/

They may be “out of the office”…


#4

This calls for the world tiniest solar powered electric violin!


#5

You know, he never did say where all that swamp water was going to go TO.

Apparently it is a marinade for us all!


#6

Whitefish Energy

Maybe not…


#7

“Look, I know it’s a crazy coincidence that this company was from my tiny hometown, and these guys are personal friends of mine who employed my son, but honestly, this was a total surprise to me! Puerto Rico could have chosen any contractors in the country, but they chose Whitefish! Nutty world we live in, huh? I swear I didn’t even suggest them for the contract. Honest!” – Zinke, the worst liar of all time


#8

A quick Google suggests that the cost to operate a Chinook runs $3000-7000/hour (if the sites found by Google are to be believed), so that $20,000/hour represents a substantial markup. Nice money if you can get it. Of course Chinooks are hard to come by; the real money comes from billing $300/hour for a job that a local lineman would do at $50/hour.

I’m pleased to see that Sec. Zinke follows administration standard practice in prefacing the word “media” with “dishonest”, just in case anyone was at risk of forgetting that the media are the Enemies of Truth who are Unfairly Maligning the Scrupulously Honest administration as it tries selflessly to Make America Great Again.


#9

The sad thing is that it is entirely possible that there was no direct immediate provable corruption here.

Our government has become corrupt by default. The PR power company, ruled by wealthy CEO class people, of course signs a contract with whatever seemingly politically connected company shows up to give them tens of millions of dollars in profit because being in Zinke/Trumps good graces seems important, and those CEO class people can expect similar deals in the future or lucrative consulting jobs with whitefish energy, and none of that happens with the ordinary support compact between the utilities or with the government just doing this subcontracting directly rather than hiring it out to two guys two thousand miles away.


#10

They should move to Coney Island.


#11

"$20,277 an hour for a heavy lift Chinook helicopter, $650 an hour for a large crane truck, "

Those numbers still seem high, but at the same time, stuff like that is super expensive.

And while this whole thing was crony capitalism at its best, if they actually PAID the workers near those fees, eh, thats good. But something tells me the billed fees and the actual salary doesn’t line up.


#12

what was after that comma, in your quote?

oh, the actually WAY OVERPRICED things were listed after that. Oh. Well.

How expensive were those cherries you picked there?

“$462/hour for supervisors and $319.04/hour for linesmen”

We’re not concerned with well connected equipment being compensated at ludicrous rates on the back of the sufffering people of PR. It’s the profiteering of the individuals.

Anyone who would accept 319.04 an hour, picked from the pockets of the suffering is someone I’d like expelled from this nation. Not the way it works, but maybe we could agree 319.04 for a lineman in this circumstance might be deeply immoral, and is definitley suspect. And is ABSOLUTELY profiteering.

The president don’t make 300 an hour at his job, does he?


#13

It’s people even vaguely associated with 45; that automatically assumes that they’ll stiff their workers, no matter how much money the company itself makes off the contract hand over fist.


#14

It’s true, Zinke might indeed be telling the truth, and these guys might have been chosen as a power move to make Zinke/Trump happy.

In that case, if you were Zinke, wouldn’t you realize how blatantly corrupt this looks? You’d open the paper, see that the guys you had backyard BBQs with on weekends just got awarded a ridiculously generous contract, and say “oh shit, either I’m going to get fired or these guys will.”


#15

#16

Uh, yeah, which is why I didn’t include them in the comment. Because some things might not be terribly over priced, and others might be.

Equipment requires maintenance, and when it comes to aircraft its a SHIT LOAD of maintenance. Also I assume said price includes the operator/pilot, who also make decent coin.

They are taking it from the pockets of the government. Which is why many government contracts are lucrative. You haven’t heard of $500 hammers? Even non-chrony capitalist jobs is going to bring a premium for the work because 1) they have to fly everything over, 2) the workers will be away from families for a long time 3) They are going to be working in extraordinary circumstances than what they are used to, including probably more dangerous, and 4) lots of over time.

Yes, I agreed it was, so you don’t need to get so worked up. Though, as I said, I’d have less of an issue with it if the PEOPLE doing the ACTUAL WORK were making decent wages, most likely that isn’t the case.

President is underpaid for what he does. It’s a symbolic salary. So it’s not really a good example. But if you are going to argue about people getting paid what they are worth then 1) lots of people like linemen probably are under paid, 2) the conditions they are going to be exposed to are worth a premium in pay. But, again, doubt the actual workers are getting paid THAT well.

Also - unrelated, but I thought Musk was repairing the grid - or hes just doing the power plant part, and others do the lines?

I should ask my uncle how his contacts down there are doing. They have a house in PR.


#17

Yeah, if the people actually doing the work, which can be mildly hazardous in the best of conditions, were seeing a significant chunk of what was charged for them the company might have been able to scrape up some plausibility. Right up until you hit the no accountability clauses.


#18

I saw an alternative theory: Puerto Rico and its power company are broke so few companies want to work for them fearing not to get paid. Whitefish may have figured that they could take the job and then use their connections in the White House to ensure that the federal government would pay if necessary. Not saying this is how it worked, but it is a possibility.


#19

I find ti most surprising that people like this really are stupid enough to think everyone else is stupid enough that no one is going to look behind the curtain or check up on things or ask questions.

These aren’t even a clever breed of scammers but more on the lines of the guy on the corner with his three card Monte table or a NIgerian “Prince” who has Michelle O’Bama (spelled that way) take some time out of her schedule to write me and ask why I haven’t completed this deal yet as it was keeping her husband, the President" up late worrying and I should email her at hew private email to discuss this. (Actual scam letter.).


#20

Are we including hat sales in the figure?