Case Number: 11-0046

  • October 25, 2011

    PLEASE DO NOT APPROVE THE RATE HIKES REQUESTED. THEY ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH PROFIT. IF THEY NEED TO UPGRADE THEY SHOULD PAY FOR IT. WE THE CITIZENS ARE SUFFERING, WE'RE UNEMPLOYED.
    AURORA & RAUL INSURRIAGA
  • October 7, 2011

    Part 2 of 2

    In 2005, AGL acquired Elizabethtown Gas in New Jersey. The following year, AGL outsourced Elizabethtown Gas call center work to a call center in India. Those jobs were among 140 call center jobs the company outsourced to India in 2006.

    In testimony she gave before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in 2009, Elizabethtown Vice President Connie McIntyre acknowledged that outsourcing the call center work resulted in an increase in customer complaints due to “issues related to knowledge base, voice quality, experience and other factors.” Testimony of Connie McIntyre before New Jersey Board of Public Utilities at p. 3, March 3, 2009, http://www.elizabethtowngas.com/Repository/Files/ETGratecase09_McIntyreTestimony.pdf

    McIntyre also acknowledged that the outsourcing “created certain challenges” for New Jersey customers.

    In her 2009 testimony, McIntyre outlined the company’s plan to return the work to New Jersey in an effort to address those challenges. Elizabethtown Gas President Jodi Gidley also testified at that time that AGL had determined “a local customer call center, with employees who would be part of the local community and better able to understand its distinct needs, is a more suitable approach” to customer service. Testimony of Jodi Gidley before New Jersey Board of Public Utilities at p. 13, March 3, 2009, http://www.elizabethtowngas.com/Repository/Files/ETGratecase09_GidleyTestimony.pdf

    Eventually, after three years of outsourcing, the call center was returned to New Jersey and 60 jobs were created to serve local New Jersey customers.

    This history of acquiring a utility and then outsourcing its call center work either out of state or even out of the country is not a pattern that should be repeated here in Illinois. But by refusing to make clear-cut commitments to retain all bargaining unit classifications of Nicor Gas employees working within the State of Illinois, AGL is attempting to give itself the ability to do just that. After all, the bargaining unit employees are the employees that provide service to the Nicor Gas customers.
    The only way the Commission can be sure Joint Applicants will continue to provide adequate, reliable, efficient and safe service is to secure a commitment from them that they will maintain in IL the current clerical and physical bargaining unit jobs that service Nicor Gas customers for a period of at least three years from the merger date.

    On behalf of the Illinois AFL-CIO and the Illinois gas customers, I urge the ICC not to approve this merger without an explicit agreement by Joint Applicants to maintain the staffing level in Illinois of the current bargaining unit employees until at least 3 years from the date of the merger.

    Articles and documents in support of this comment are at:

    VNG Plans To Relocate Call Center Out of State, June 8, 2001, http://articles.dailypress.com/2001-06-08/news/0106080010_1_virginia-natural-gas-customer-care-center-agl-resources

    Gas Running Through His Veins, March 22, 2002, http://articles.dailypress.com/2002-03-22/business/0203220022_1_atlanta-gas-light-virginia-natural-gas-pipelines

    AGL Resources Outsourcing 140 Jobs to India, May 31, 2006, http://gareport.com/story/2006/05/31/agl-resources-outsourcing-140-jobs-to-india/

    AGL Bringing Call Center Workers Back to Metro Atlanta, November 6, 2009, http://www.ajc.com/business/agl-bringing-call-center-188560.html

    Va. Natural Gas Parent Call Center Relocating to U.S., November 15, 2009, http://hamptonroads.com/2009/11/va-natural-gas-parent-call-center-relocating-us

    Testimony of Connie McIntyre before New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, March 3, 2009, http://www.elizabethtowngas.com/Repository/Files/ETGratecase09_McIntyreTestimony.pdf

    Testimony of Jodi Gidley before New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, March 3, 2009, http://www.elizabethtowngas.com/Repository/Files/ETGratecase09_GidleyTestimony.pdf

    Michael Carrigan
  • October 7, 2011

    Part 1 of 2

    My name is Michael Carrigan and I am the President of the Illinois AFL-CIO representing 950,000 Union members across the State of Illinois.
    We are very concerned because the Joint Applicants in this case have refused to agree not to reduce Illinois employees who are dedicated to servicing Illinois customers as a result of the merger.

    NICOR and AGL admit to the importance of maintaining staffing levels in order to provide appropriate and safe service. In spite of this, as the ALJ acknowledges in his proposed order, AGL has not committed to maintaining the current staffing levels in Illinois of employees dedicated to servicing Nicor Gas customers. What it has promised to do is keep 2070 full time equivalent employees (“FTEs”) in the service of Nicor Gas but not necessarily in the state; and it has promised to keep 2070 FTEs in the state but not necessarily in the service of Nicor Gas customers.

    So what does this mean to the NICOR customers and to its bargaining unit employees represented by IBEW Local 19? It means AGL could meet its 2070 FTE commitment by moving, for example, 200 corporate and administrative jobs unrelated to Nicor Gas customers to IL and then moving 200 bargaining unit clerical positions outside of IL, perhaps to India, and have them perform IL customer service work from afar.

    AGL could also reduce the number of physical bargaining unit positions thereby postponing needed maintenance, delaying installation and maintenance response times, reducing inspections and the like—all resulting in reducing the quality of service to IL gas customers. Those bargaining unit FTEs then could be replaced by corporate or administrative employees to reach the 2070 FTE commitment.

    To the state of Illinois and the union, this would also mean the loss of good union jobs.

    To the gas customers, this would mean that people out of state and perhaps out of the country would be handling their customer service calls.

    The following information explains why we think concerns about staffing are not just hypothetical.

    The Joint Applicants have asked the Commission to look at AGL’s performance on staffing following previous mergers to predict how they will handle this one. The ALJ has done just that in his Proposed Order, even though the only evidence the Joint Applicants have offered on this point consists of one paragraph of generalized and conclusory statements about AGL’s past record. Those statements are contained in Joint Applicants’ Exhibit 8 at page 5.

    When we actually look at what AGL has done following past mergers, it becomes clear why AGL has refused to make hard commitments on staffing.

    In 2000, AGL acquired Virginia Natural Gas, which provides natural gas service to approximately 273,000 customers in the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia. The very next year, AGL closed down the call center that served these customers and moved that work to Georgia. AGL told the 35 call center employees in Virginia that they had a choice: either follow the work to Georgia or lose their jobs. See VNG Plans To Relocate Call Center Out of State, June 8, 2001, http://articles.dailypress.com/2001-06-08/news/0106080010_1_virginia-natural-gas-customer-care-center-agl-resources.

    Michael Carrigan
  • October 5, 2011

    Please protect my family and our neighbors from exorbitant over charging by Nicor. Its incredible that even in these uncertain economic times, Nicor would fight to keep their unfairly collected over charges. Its only right that they should return these overcharges to consumers. Plus, making them return the overcharges will help them remember not to do it next time!
    Winifred Haun
  • July 27, 2011

    As a retired employee (1996) I have an interest in this case though I no longer reside in Illinois. There are severe tax issues in 2011 for me and many other retirees if the merger takes place LATE 2011. A savings plan will be terminated and cashed out forcing income late in the year and will cause severe tax consequences to my financial plan for 2011. I cannot stop withdrawal of funds from current sources (I need them to live on), yet I also cannot get at the savings plan funds till the merger is complete. So for me EITHER sooner OR not till early 2012.
    I know my financial issues are not your problem but would appreciate it if you would approve today or not at any time in 2011.
    Thanks for your time

    JAMES R STANSBURY
  • July 27, 2011

    Complaint agains NiGas:
    Over a year has has reported me to Trans Union, Equifax, and others for not paying a NiCor bill, Today a Nicor rep. called me, mentioning names and addresses. I have no idea of what she was talking about, NiCor has me mixed up with some one else or is it identity theft?
    Please have NiCor delete all thei adverse reports to Trans Union Equifax and other since they are smearing my reputation
    Thank You
    Stase Milinaviciene
    16758 Arbor Creek Drive
    Plainfield, Il., 60586
    tel: 708-790-9905

    STASE MILINAVICIENE
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