Blumenthal seeks to curtail executive compensation

Keith Loria Jul. 21, 2009, 4:55pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called for executive compensation reform on Tuesday for utilities that disclosed increased salaries and benefits to top executives even as they sought rate hikes.

"Electric and gas consumers -- many losing jobs and homes -- are compelled to provide pay raises to utility executive millionaires," Blumenthal said.

"These compensation disclosures should drive reform, and energize consumers who have endured rate increases over the past year. I urge legislation again to cap the expense to ratepayers for excessive executive pay."

The Democratic attorney general was joined by State Rep. Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, House co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, in making the plea.

Last year, Blumenthal successfully argued that the Department of Public Utility Control require that Connecticut's public utility companies disclose in a comprehensive, reader-friendly format, all compensation paid to their executives and officers annually.

As part of this new requirement, the companies recently filed 2008 executive compensation disclosures, revealing sky-high pay and benefit packages, largely at the expense of ratepayers.

Blumenthal said in the fiscal year ended December 2008, Northeast Utilities CEO Charles W. Shivery received $8.09 million in total compensation, of which $1.3 million was paid by Connecticut ratepayers; United Illuminating CEO James Torgerson received $2.261 million, nearly all of which was paid by UI ratepayers; and the CEO of Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas Company, Robert Allessio, received total compensation of $869,817, of which $748,480 was paid by Connecticut ratepayers.

"Ratepayers should be spared this outrageous burden when they are tightening financial belts and budgets, and struggling to make ends meet," Blumenthal said.

"Even while United Illuminating sought to increase rates and reduce service, its CEO enjoyed a compensation increase of more than half a million from last year... These compensation packages and pay increases -- in some cases coupled with rate increase requests -- are both insult and injury to consumers."

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