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UPDATE 1-U.S. House panel seeks documents on Puerto Rico utility repair contract

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WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - A U.S. congressional committee on Thursday set a Nov. 2 deadline for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to provide information related to its $300 million contract with a small Montana firm to repair damage to the utility's infrastructure caused by Hurricane Maria.

"Specifically, the size and terms of the contract, as well as the circumstances surrounding the contract's formation, raise questions regarding PREPA's standard contract awarding procedures," the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop, said in a letter to PREPA's executive director, Ricardo Ramos.

Media reports that Whitefish Energy Holdings entered the contract with PREPA to fix the utility's power grid raised questions among Democrats in Congress and others when it was disclosed that the Montana firm won the contract without a competitive bidding process.

The two-year-old company had only two full-time employees and was rapidly hiring workers to tackle the job of patching up the destroyed power grid that has left most of the U.S. territory without electricity for weeks following the destructive hurricane.

While Bishop's letter noted that emergency circumstances could "necessitate" emergency relief contracts, "Transparency and accountability in government contracting, however, is not to be compromised."

PREPA is a quasi-public utility.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang)