WHITEFISH – A Flathead company has received the general contract to rebuild the power line infrastructure of Puerto Rico following the devastating hurricane that recently pummeled the island.
The contract with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is for the rebuild of the entire power grid of the island.
Whitefish Energy is dispatching an initial 200 lineman, construction and project managers to Puerto Rico over the next week to start rebuilding the transmission power lines that are vital to the restoration of key water supply dams.
Andy Techmanski, the CEO of the Whitefish-based company, is in Puerto Rico right now and said the situation is large-scale urgent.
He said they plan to grow the staff levels to over 300 to support the people of Puerto Rico for at least the next six months but it could end up taking years to complete the project.
Techmanski said the only electricity the island has been able to restore is one small block downtown around some hotels, the airport, and one major hospital.
“Usually when we come into a situation like the hurricanes that hit the United States we go down there and there [are] still some resemblance of the grid, you know you’re repairing maybe 35 percent of the grid in those cases,” Techmanski said.
“Nobody has walked into a situation where nearly 100-percent of the grid has to be built so you know we’re looking at it pragmatically and ramping up appropriately to the task,” he added.
Because of the difficulty in bringing materials to the island Techmanski said it will be a staged approach in rebuilding the two main transmission lines that run from North to South. He said they plan to bring in any equipment necessary and are committed to stay as long as it takes to finish.
Techmanski told MTN there are also doctors on the team with him that are helping to assistant and coordinate medical attention to the people of Puerto Rico. Donated supplies from North Valley Hospital in Whitefish have also been secured on the island.
MTN’s Nicole Miller