Tuesday | January 16, 2018
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Director of Puerto Rico power company resigns amid scrutiny

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The director of Puerto Rico’s power company resigned on Friday amid ongoing blackouts and scrutiny of a contract awarded to a small Montana-based company to help rebuild the electric grid destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority said Ricardo Ramos presented his letter of resignation to the company’s board effective immediately. Ramos said in a brief video posted on Twitter Friday evening that it was a very personal decision and that it had nothing to do with any issues covered by the media.

“The focus has to remain on restoring the electrical system,” he said as he thanked his power company crews and those that had arrived from New York and Florida.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello briefly told reporters that Ramos is a professional who worked hard to bring power back to Puerto Rico, but that “there were a series of distractions, and a decision was taken to go in another direction.”

“That resignation was taken … in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.

Hours after the resignation, Rossello recommended that the board appoint Justo Gonzalez, the company’s power generation director, as interim director.

Earlier this week, Ramos testified before a U.S. Senate committee about a $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings that has since been canceled. The contract is undergoing a local and federal audit.

Prior to the announcement of Ramos’ resignation, local newspaper El Vocero had reported on Friday that Ramos had awarded a nearly $100,000 contract to an attorney for consulting work just days after Hurricane Irma brushed past Puerto Rico. It was the same attorney Ramos previously had tried to appoint as sub-director of the power company.

 

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