Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General, Consumer Counsel Announce Job Cuts At CT Natural Gas and Southern CT Gas On Hold

September 24, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Consumer Counsel Mary Healey announced that -- immediately after they presented argument at a public hearing today -- the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) agreed to indefinitely bar layoffs at Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) and Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG).

As Blumenthal and Healey urged, the gas companies are prohibited from laying off employees until the DPUC investigates whether the job cuts threaten safety and reliability and conflict with rate orders.

Blumenthal said, "This order immediately barring layoffs is exactly what we sought to protect public safety and service reliability. These job cuts directly imperil safety and reliability because these skilled technicians and service workers are the essential first responders to emergencies and breakdowns -- the people who repair gas leaks, stop carbon monoxide poisoning, and fix pipes and meters.

"The testimony today shows that the company has no real plans to assure the public will be safeguarded -- only a plan to raise profits and revenue. The company seeks to disregard and defy past DPUC orders that set job levels necessary for adequate repair and service. More than money, basic health and safety of employees and customers is at stake.

"I am pleased that the DPUC heeded our call, and responsibly recognized the need to investigate these layoffs -- and I am hopeful that it will ultimately preserve jobs, safety and service quality. This order provides critical relief -- at least during the ongoing investigation -- for employees and customers who depend on safe and reliable gas service."

Healey said, "We are pleased that the Department of Public Utility Control ordered the companies to stay any workforce reductions. Today's hearing revealed that the gas companies' plans are not at all developed and their testimony today fell far short of demonstrating that any workforce reductions can be accomplished safely. The customers require safe, reliable gas service and effective customer service, as emergencies can arise quickly and without warning." CNG/SCG announced the layoffs after the DPUC rejected its requests for rate hikes, instead slashing CNG's rates 4.2 percent and SCG's 3.2 percent. The DPUC cut the company's rates because it was earning more than the approximately 10 percent profit allowed by regulators.