Business Manager : Keith Harris ( )
Business Manager : Keith Harris ( )

John Fernandes' statement to PURA

John Fernandes read the following statement at the PURA hearing this morning:

"Good morning, I'm John Fernandes, Business Manager, IBEW Local 457, Berlin, CT. Local 457 represents workers at CL&P, Yankee Gas, Wallingford, and Norwich Utilities, including the workers at the Middletown & Willimantic CL&P work centers slated to be closed.

These facilities have been bought and paid for by the ratepayers over many years and to allow them to be closed is a disservice to those very same customers.

The employees in these work centers have established relationships in the communities. They know the customer base. They know the roads and all the idiosyncrasies of the electrical system, just like the local police know each neighborhood. Local knowledge has a lot to do with efficient restoration of the electrical system.

While reducing the number of work centers may reduce some costs, it certainly will also reduce service to the customer especially during restoration efforts. All the technology in the world won't help when it is workers on the job site that are needed to put the lights on.

While CL&P tries to spin a tale how these consolidations will make them more efficient and better able to serve the company let me say bluntly- it won't. This move is just another byproduct of deregulation, a change that has not served the people of CT as advertised. In attempt to create competition we now have larger utility monopolies than before and without the income from generation, the regulated companies like CL&P have turned to employee reductions, contracting work out, and selling off assets as a means to maximize profits. This has become a frightening trend in the utility sector since deregulation as the likes of Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn and Wall Street financial firms are now buying up utilities.

Our Local represents two of the larger municipally owned electric companies in CT and there just aren't these problems because they are not profit driven. While they do bring dollars into their respective towns there are no officers with multi-million dollar salaries.

After many conversations with State and Local politicians we, the Members of Local 457, feel that you as commissioners of PURA, are the last line of defense for the consumer and such have the authority to stop the closure and sale of these facilities. We feel the time to exercise that authority is now before CL&P customers and employees become additional victims of the merger/acquisition mindset of Wall Street."