Connecticut Attorney General's Office
Press Release



Attorney General, OCC Ask DPUC To Stay Elimination Of At Least 45 Gas Company Jobs Until Investigation Done

September 10, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Consumer Counsel Mary Healey have asked the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) to bar Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) / Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) from laying off at least 45 employees until the DPUC investigates whether the job cuts threaten safety and reliability and conflict with rate orders.

Blumenthal also wrote CNG/SCG President and CEO Robert M. Allessio urging him to keep these workers on the job until the DPUC completes its investigation.

Blumenthal will attend a union rally opposing the layoffs today at 4 p.m. in front of CNG/SCG headquarters at 76 Meadow Street, East Hartford.

Allessio has given no indication the cutbacks include reductions to his compensation, which last year totaled $869,817. Of that amount, $748,480 was paid by Connecticut ratepayers.

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.

Blumenthal said, "I urge this company to stop playing Russian roulette with public safety and service reliability. These layoffs mean losing personnel vital to safety and service -- which is why an order stopping them is urgent and essential. We will fight for a stay, stopping dangerous job cuts until the DPUC can investigate their impact and legality.

"The company's cutbacks demonstrate contempt for customers and defiance of regulators. Slashing staff is an end run around rate setting -- simply to raise profits and executive pay. Cuts to executive compensation should come before consumers and workers are sacrificed -- to prevent profiteering," Blumenthal said.

Healey said, "An investigation should be conducted before a layoff of this magnitude occurs, as some of the targeted positions relate directly to gas service and public safety. Our request for a stay is grounded in the need to ensure that the public interest is served and that safe and reliable gas service for CNG and SCG's customers is not compromised."