Power workers with no fear of heights are being hoisted up by helicopter in the mountains of Puerto Rico to repair the island's devastated transmission lines.

Workers are dangling from helicopters to fix Puerto Rico's power lines

bizgrrl's picture

I don't think I'll ever live

I don't think I'll ever live on an island. I feel so sorry for them. They are living a very rough life right now and its been four + weeks since tha hurricane.

bizgrrl's picture

Alphabet, Inc. along with

Alphabet, Inc. along with AT&T will provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico using up to 30 balloons to send texts and access critical information on the internet.

It's wonderful to hear about these creative tactics to help out in Puerto Rico.

Mary the prez's picture

PUERTO RICO - Shamefully ignored by this GOP non-president

And I have learned from various TRUTHFUL sources that churches from around the U.S. as well as our VETERANS are finding ways to organize help. And still, a month out, those living in remote and mountainous areas, are STILL WAITING for REAL HELP. This is such a NATIONAL TRAGEDY....and over 60,000 have escaped to Florida...wonder who they will vote for come November ? ?

bizgrrl's picture

This small Montana company

This small Montana company providing services to Puerto Rico has only been open for two years and has only two full time employees. It signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to repair and reconstruct large portions of the island’s electrical infrastructure.

That contract will certainly jump start a new company.

This contract was signed instead of using "mutual aid" agreements with other utilities normally used during disaster recovery. Maybe other utilities can't provide workers dangling from helicopters.

Under the contract, the hourly rate was set at $330 for a site supervisor, and at $227.88 for a “journeyman lineman.” The cost for subcontractors, which make up the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, is $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319.04 for a lineman. Whitefish also charges nightly accommodation fees of $332 per worker and almost $80 per day for food.

That are pretty darn high hourly rates. However, I have no idea how close that comes to the standard hourly rates for these positions.

The commonwealth, strapped for funds before Hurricane Maria hit, is expected to run out of cash as early as the end of the month, according to people familiar with the island’s finances. And even if the Senate and the president approve the House’s $4.9 billion aid package for Puerto Rico, the island might need more money in as little as three months.

Then, the question is, will the contractor, Whitefish Energy, get paid and when?

The firm is located in the hometown of US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Whitefish’s general partner maxed out donations to the Trump primary and general election campaigns, as well as a Trump super PAC, in 2016."

fischbobber's picture

Hourly rate.

It's roughly ten times the hourly rate of a journeyman lineman depending on the part of the nation and whether or not they're union. Ironically, if Tesla has been called in to provide power to their lodging and support facilities, they're living pretty good right now and making a killing installing yesterday's infrastructure.

The Hospital Tesla re-rigged with solar power is already up and running.

bizgrrl's picture

Usually after huge power

Usually after huge power outages, electric companies arrange mutual aid agreements with utilities elsewhere to bring in workers to help restore power. But that would most likely have required assurances of payment, and PREPA has been bankrupt since July. So PREPA CEO Ricardo Ramos made a deal with Whitefish, which asked for no such guarantee.

Whitefish then subcontracted with utilities including Jacksonville Electric Authority and Kissimmee Utility Authority to help it with transmission system restoration — the same thing a mutual aid agreement might have arranged at a lower cost. It's unusual for electrical utilities to work under a contractor.

In the Puerto Rico utility contract with Whitefish, the contract said FEMA signed off on the contract. FEMA says no they did not.

bizgrrl's picture

Puerto Rico’s electric

Puerto Rico’s electric company moved Sunday to cancel a $300 million contract with a small Montana firm for repairs to the territory’s hurricane-ravaged electrical grid, saying controversy surrounding the agreement was distracting from the effort to restore power.
Thirty-nine days after Hurricane Maria hit the territory, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said that he is requesting assistance from Florida and New York under “mutual aid” arrangements that utilities traditionally activate during emergencies. The territory had not previously done so and had not responded to offers of assistance.

About 80 percent of people on the commonwealth’s main island still have no electricity.

Over a month without electricity and it's not easy to get to the mainland for respite.

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