Oklahoma Energy Company Seeks Money For Work Performed Following Hurricane In Puerto Rico
News 6 - July 1, 2022 6:21 am
The Oklahoma City-based company that rebuilt Puerto Rico’s electric grid after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017 is still fighting to be paid for that work.
Mammoth Energy chief executive officer Arty Straehla said it’s shocking to him that it’s now nearly five years after the storm and PREPA, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, still has not paid them in full.
“Our men and women that went to work on that island did not leave until the lights were on and the power was back on,” Straehla said in an interview last week in Oklahoma. “And we’re not going to stop working towards getting our money in the same manner.”
The massive effort to rebuild the island’s electric grid — work conducted by Mammoth subsidiary Cobra — cost about $1.3 billion. Cobra was paid just over $1 billion, leaving about $250 million unpaid. With interest accruing at more than $3 million per month, that amount owed is now $350 million.
PREPA filed for bankruptcy in 2017, but Straehla said he’s seen the balance sheet and knows the money is now there.
“They’ve always said, ‘Oh, we don’t have the money. We don’t have this. We don’t have that,'” Straehla said. “But what they do have is in excess of $1 billion on their balance sheet and they have $40.3 million that is appropriated to Cobra for the storm work we did in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. It’s totally incredulous that they do not pay us when they have the monies available.”
Straehla said almost as frustrating is that leadership of the board set up to help Puerto Rico and PREPA navigate out of bankruptcy — the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (FOMB) — is not helping.
“They are there to help Puerto Rico to pay their bills and to get back on the right side of financial and fiscal responsibility. They are not doing their job.” Straehla said.
The Chairman of FOMB, David Skeel, has not yet responded to a request for a comment.
Meanwhile, Straehla said he is also working with members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation to try and get some movement on the payment.