Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General, Consumer Counsel Seek Immediate Order Barring CNG/SCG Layoffs That Threaten Public Safety

November 12, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Consumer Counsel Mary Healey are seeking an immediate order by the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) to block layoffs -- disclosed last week -- at Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) and Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) that will begin Monday.

After a temporary DPUC order blocking the layoffs expired, CNG and SCG promptly notified employees that layoffs will begin next Monday, despite an ongoing investigation by the DPUC -- urged by Blumenthal and Healey -- into the safety and reliability ramifications of the job cuts.

Blumenthal and Healey said these workers are often "first responders" in the event of a gas leak and similar public safety hazards, which means layoffs could jeopardize the safety of both workers and the public.

Blumenthal said, "The companies have brazenly accelerated these layoffs -- seeking to beat the DPUC's ongoing investigation and make a mockery of state regulators. We seek an immediate order to block these layoffs -- unnecessary and unsafe job cuts that threaten service and safety.

"CNG and SCG are cravenly cutting key jobs -- pushing employees out the door and attempting to beat any state ruling against it. This threat is the height of corporate arrogance, and must be stopped immediately before it creates a public danger and service reliability nightmare.

"These workers are first responders in the event of gas leaks and similar public dangers. Even more than most companies, CNG and SCG have a responsibility -- as publicly regulated companies providing a life-dependent service -- to maintain safe employment levels."

"Following excessive profits last fall, the companies have sought to increase rates and terminate workers -- while maintaining lucrative executive compensation -- at the expense of ratepayers and employees. The DPUC rightly rejected a rate increase request, and now should renew its order barring layoffs as its investigation into these job cuts continues."

Healey said, "The DPUC has not received sufficient information from CNG & SCG to complete its review of the effects of these layoffs on reliability and safety. Until that happens, for the companies to go ahead with these layoffs would be inappropriate and potentially imprudent."

CNG/SCG first announced planned 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.