October 8, 2013 09:08AM
By Monica Szakacs
The Berlin Citizen
Northeast Utilities confirmed Oct. 1 that it will outsource half of its information technology department overseas.
Currently there are 400 New England IT employees at NU, which employs about 280 in Connecticut.
According to NU officials, the Berlin-based electric company — whose divisions include Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas — has determined that going forward, it will retain about half of those employees.
In a statement released by NU, officials said, “We are working with our strategic business partners to help conduct the rest of the work — the majority of which will still be conducted locally.”
About 40 of those impacted will be re-hired as employees of the external vendors and will still work at NU facilities. The transition will begin in November and continue through June of 2014, according to the statement.
“We spent a great deal of time over the last year studying our combined, post-merger IT department and determined we had two very distinct business models,” the statement said. “In order to meet growing customer expectations and deliver the latest IT solutions, we have designed one integrated, forward-looking, technology-savvy organization. We will be utilizing the services of two business partners in this effort — leading, global firms who will conduct some of our IT work going forward.”
The two IT firms NU will be working with are Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services — both based in India.
In a press statement, Connecticut House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said he is “disappointed” and “disgusted that NU is slashing good-paying Connecticut jobs.”
“I can see it now — this will probably result in top executives receiving bonuses while middle class families suffer,” added Aresimowicz, a Democrat who represents Berlin and Southington in the General Assembly. “We cannot accept this as business as usual.”
NU officials said the company is offering its IT employees an enhanced voluntary separation package.
The company will not have a breakdown of the impact in each state until all employees determine if they are going to pursue the voluntary package.
In September, NU spokesperson Al Lara told The Berlin Citizen the company has worked to streamline since the merger settlement with the Massachusetts-based utility company NStar, which closed back in April 2012.
Following the merger settlement, Lara said, guaranteed benefits were provided to customers in the form of rate credits and rate freezes, and “the process of the merger is to find those savings for our customers.”
Lara said NU has been working regularly with the attorney general’s office regarding the merger.
According to recent data, since the merger with NStar employment at Northeast Utilities has declined from 9,075 to 8,679.
In a joint statement, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz said NU’s decision to outsource jobs “will severely impact those Connecticut families that are ultimately affected by the planned staff reductions.”
“The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of Consumer Counsel have already asked the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to fully review the effect that outsourcing of information technology jobs could have on the company’s major storm outage readiness, response and communication, as well as the company’s compliance with the approved merger agreement,” the statement said.
“We remain deeply committed to the terms included in the merger agreement, and we will continue to monitor this situation to ensure that Connecticut is not ultimately disproportionately affected,” the statement continued. “Additionally, we will work to ensure that anticipated cost savings arising from outsourcing and consolidation are reflected in lower rates to consumers in the 2014 rate case.”