CT officials renew call for probe after NU confirms plans to outsource IT jobs

State officials renewed their call for a review of Northeast Utilities operations after company officials confirmed plans Tuesday to outsource about half of its 400 information technology jobs.

But a company spokeswoman also said about 40 of the 200 affected workers likely would be rehired by branches in the northeastern U.S. of the two India-based companies selected to revitalize the utility’s IT network.

It was unclear Tuesday how many Connecticut workers would be affected, but about 280 of NU’s 400 IT workers are based in the Nutmeg State.

Attorney General George C. Jepsen, Consumer Council Elin Swanson Katz and House Majority Leader Joseph Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, all issued statements decrying the move shortly after the company’s chief administrative officer, David McHale, announced the outsourcing during a conference call.

“While not unexpected, the changes NU announced today are very significant and will severely impact those Connecticut families that are ultimately affected by the planned staff reductions,” Jepsen and Katz wrote in a joint statement that reaffirmed their call for Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority to investigate. “… While the full impact of today’s announcement will likely not be known for several months, these changes make it even more critical that PURA take a close look at NU’s manner of operations in Connecticut.”

Berlin-based NU, which merged in April with Boston-based NSTAR, was quiet last week when Aresimowicz and more than a dozen other state legislators held a press conference to discuss rumors of job outsourcing raised by their constituents who work for the utility.

Company officials only would say they were reviewing issues related to staffing and technology and would release more details once decisions had been made.

And on Tuesday, NU announced roughly half of its technology operations would be transferred over the next seven months.

“It was really an effort to come up with one, integrated, tech-savvy organization,” NU spokeswoman Tricia Modifica said of the company decision to assign work to India-based Infosys and TCS Consulting.

An internal review has shown that current IT operations across the newly merged utility did not universally follow best practices, Modifica said, adding that IT specialists with a presence in the Northeast were chosen “to deliver the best IT solutions.”

“I’m disappointed and, quite frankly, disgusted that NU is slashing good-paying Connecticut jobs,” Aresimowicz said Tuesday. “I can see it now — this will probably result in top executives receiving bonuses while middle class families suffer. We cannot accept this business as usual.”

Aresimowicz and other legislators said last week that while outsourcing IT work raises security concerns about Connecticut’s electric grid, they also think it contradicts company statements made late last year and early in 2013.

When lawmakers raised concerns about the merger, company officials pledged then that any staff reductions would be made through attrition or retirement incentive programs, said Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.

The merger plan unites six electric and natural gas utilities that together serve 3.5 million customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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