Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

Note 3 Employee Benefit Plans

Accounting for employee benefit plans

The authoritative guidance related to retirement benefits requires that we recognize all obligations related to defined benefit pensions and other postretirement benefits and quantify the plans’ funding status as an asset or a liability on our consolidated statements of financial position. The guidance further requires that we measure the plans’ assets and obligations that determine our funded status as of the end of the fiscal year. We are also required to recognize as a component of OCI the changes in funded status that occurred during the year that are not recognized as part of net periodic benefit cost as explained in authoritative guidance related to pension and postretirement benefits.

Based on the funded status of our defined benefit pension and postretirement benefit plans as of December 31, 2009, we reported an after-tax gain to our OCI of $17 million ($28 million before tax), a net decrease of $48 million to accrued pension and postretirement obligations and an increase of $11 million to accumulated deferred income taxes.

Oversight of Plans

The Retirement Plan Investment Committee (the Committee) appointed by our Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the investments of the retirement plans. Further, we have an Investment Policy (the Policy) for the retirement and postretirement benefit plans that aims to preserve these plans’ capital and maximize investment earnings in excess of inflation within acceptable levels of capital market volatility. To accomplish this goal, the retirement and postretirement benefit plans’ assets are actively managed to optimize long-term return while maintaining a high standard of portfolio quality and diversification.

We will continue to diversify retirement plan investments to minimize the risk of large losses in a single asset class. We do not have a concentration of assets in a single entity, industry, country, commodity or class of investment fund. The Policy’s permissible investments include domestic and international equities (including convertible securities and mutual funds), domestic and international fixed income (corporate and U.S. government obligations), cash and cash equivalents and other suitable investments.

Equity market performance and corporate bond rates have a significant effect on our reported unfunded projected benefit obligation (PBO) and accumulated postretirement benefit obligation (APBO), as the primary factors that drive the value of our unfunded PBO and APBO are the assumed discount rate and the actual return on plan assets. Additionally, equity market performance has a significant effect on our market-related value of plan assets (MRVPA), which is used by our largest pension plan. TheMRVPA is a calculated value and differs from the actual market value of plan assets. The MRVPA also recognizes the difference between the actual market value and expected market value of our plan assets and is determined by our actuaries using a five-year moving weighted average methodology. Gains and losses on plan assets are spread through theMRVPA based on the five-yearmoving weighted average methodology, which affects the expected return on plan assets component of pension expense.

Pension Benefits

We sponsor two tax-qualified defined benefit retirement plans for our eligible employees, the AGL Resources Inc. Retirement Plan (AGL Retirement Plan) and the Employees’ Retirement Plan of NUI Corporation (NUI Retirement Plan). A defined benefit plan specifies the amount of benefits an eligible participant eventually will receive using information about the participant.

We generally calculate the benefits under the AGL Retirement Plan based on age, years of service and pay. The benefit formula for the AGL Retirement Plan is a career average earnings formula, except for participants who were employees as of July 1, 2000, and who were at least 50 years of age as of that date. For those participants, we use a final average earnings benefit formula, and will continue to use this benefit formula for such participants until December 31, 2010, at which time any of those participants who are still actively employed will accrue future benefits under the career average earnings formula.

The NUI Retirement Plan covers substantially all of NUI Corporation’s employees who were employed on or before December 31, 2005, except Florida City Gas union employees, who until February 2008 participated in a union-sponsored multiemployer plan. Pension benefits are based on years of credited service and final average compensation as of the plan freeze date. Effective, January 1, 2006, participation and benefit accrual under the NUI Retirement Plan were frozen. As of that date, former participants in that plan became eligible to participate in the AGL Retirement Plan. Florida City Gas union employees became eligible to participate in the AGL Retirement Plan in February 2008.

Postretirement Benefits

We sponsor a defined benefit postretirement health care plan for our eligible employees, the Health and Welfare Plan for Retirees and Inactive Employees of AGL Resources Inc. (AGL Postretirement Plan). Eligibility for these benefits is based on age and years of service.

The AGL Postretirement Plan includes medical coverage for all eligible AGL Resources employees who were employed as of June 30, 2002, if they reach retirement age while working for us. Additionally, the AGL Postretirement Plan provides life insurance for all employees if they have ten years of service at retirement. The state regulatory commissions have approved phase-ins that defer a portion of other postretirement benefits expense for future recovery. We recorded a regulatory asset for these future recoveries of $10 million as of December 31, 2009 and $11 million as of December 31, 2008. In addition, we recorded a regulatory liability of $5 million as of December 31, 2009 and $5 million as of December 31, 2008 for our expected expenses under the AGL Postretirement Plan.We expect to pay $8million of insurance claims for the postretirement plan in 2010, but we do not anticipate making any additional contributions.

Effective December 8, 2003, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 was signed into law. This act provides for a prescription drug benefit under Medicare (Part D) as well as a federal subsidy to sponsors of retiree health care benefit plans that provide a benefit that is at least actuarially equivalent to Medicare Part D. From January 1, through June 30, 2009, Medicare-eligible participants receive prescription drug benefits through a Medicare Part D plan offered by a third party and to which we subsidized participant premiums. Medicare-eligible retirees who opted out of the AGL Postretirement Plan were eligible to receive a cash subsidy which could be used towards eligible prescription drug expenses. Effective July 1, 2009, Medicare eligible retirees, including all of those at least age 65, receive benefits through our contribution to a retiree health reimbursement arrangement account.

Effective January 1, 2010, enhancements weremade to the pre- 65 medical coverage by removing the current cap on our expected costs and implementing a new cap determined by the new retiree premium schedule based on salary level and years of service. Consequently, a one-percentage-point change in the assumed health care cost trend rates does not materially affect the periodic benefit costs or our accumulated projected benefit obligation for our postretirement plan.

Contributions

Our employees do not contribute to the retirement plans. We fund the qualified pension plans by contributing at least the minimum amount required by applicable regulations and as recommended by our actuary. However, we may also contribute in excess of the minimum required amount. As required by The Pension Protection Act (the Act) of 2006, we calculate the minimum amount of funding using the traditional unit credit cost method.

The Act contained new funding requirements for single employer defined benefit pension plans. The Act established a 100%funding target (over a 7-year amortization period) for plan years beginning after December 31, 2007. If certain conditions are met, the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (passed December, 2008) allowed us to measure our 2008 and 2009 minimum required contributions based on a funding target at 92%and 94%, respectively. In 2010, this will increase to 96%and for 2011, it will increase to 100%. In 2009 we contributed $24 million to our qualified pension plans. In 2008 we did not make contributions to our qualified pension plans as one was not required. For more information on our 2010 contributions to our pension plans, see Note 7.

The following tables present details about our AGL Retirement Plan and the NUI Retirement Plan (retirement plans) and the AGL Postretirement Plan (postretirement plan).

 
Retirement plans
Postretirement plan
Dollars in millions
2009
2008
2009
2008
Change in plan assets
Fair value of plan assets, January 1,
$ 242
$ 383
$ 49
$ 70
Actual gain (loss) on plan assets
61
(115)
14
(21)
Employer contribution
26
1
7
4
Benefits paid
(26)
(27)
(7)
(4)
Fair value of plan assets, December 31, (A)
$ 303
$ 242
$ 63
$ 49
Change in benefit obligation
Benefit obligation, January 1,
$ 442
$ 427
$ 95
$ 94
Service cost
8
7
Interest cost
26
26
6
6
Plan amendment
1
Actuarial loss (gain)
13
9
6
(1)
Benefits paid
(26)
(27)
(7)
(4)
Benefit obligation, December 31, (B)
$ 463
$ 442
$101
$ 95
% funded (A/B)
65.4%
54.8%
62.4%
51.6%
Amounts recognized in the consolidated statements
of financial position consist of
Current liability
$ (1)
$ (1)
$ —
$ —
Long-term liability
(159)
(199)
(38)
(46)
Total liability at December 31,
$(160)
$(200)
$ (38)
$(46)
Assumptions used to determine benefit obligations
Discount rate
5.8 – 6.0%
6.2%
5.8%
6.2%
Rate of compensation increase
3.7%
3.7%
3.7%
3.7%
Accumulated benefit obligation
$ 448
$ 425
Not applicable


The components of our pension and postretirement benefit costs are set forth in the following table.

  Retirement plans Postretirement plan
Dollars in millions 2009 2008 2007 2009 2008 2007
Net benefit cost            
Service cost $ 8 $ 7 $ 7 $— $— $ 1
Interest cost 26 26 26 6 6 6
Expected return on plan assets (29) (32) (31) (4) (6) (5)
Net amortization (2) (2) (2) (4) (4) (4)
Recognized actuarial loss 9 3 7 2 1 1
Net annual pension cost
$ 12 $ 2 $ 7 $— $ (3) $(1)
Assumptions used to determine benefit costs            
Discount rate 6.2% 6.4% 5.8% 6.2% 6.4% 5.8%
Expected return on plan assets 9.0% 9.0% 9.0% 9.0% 9.0% 9.0%
Rate of compensation increase 3.7% 3.7% 3.7% 3.7% 3.7% 3.7%


There were no other changes in plan assets and benefit obligations recognized for our retirement and postretirement plans for the year ended December 31, 2009. The 2010 estimated OCI amortization and expected refunds for these plans are set forth in the following table.

In millions Retirement plans Postretirement plan
Amortization of prior
service credit
$ (2) $(4)
Amortization of net loss 11 2
Refunds expected


The following table presents expected benefit payments for the years ended December 31, 2010 through 2019 for our retirement and postretirement plans. There will be benefit payments under these plans beyond 2019.

In millions
Retirement plans
Postretirement plan
2010
$ 27
$ 8
2011
27
8
2012
27
8
2013
27
8
2014
27
7
2015–2019
154
37
Total
$289
$76


The following table presents the amounts not yet reflected in net periodic benefit cost and included in accumulated OCI as of December 31, 2009.

In millions
Retirement plans
Postretirement plan
Prior service credit
$ (17)
$(12)
Net loss
187
33
Accumulated OCI
170
21
Net amount recognized in
consolidated statements of financial position
(160)
(38)
Prepaid (accrued) cumulative employer
contributions in excess of net periodic
benefit cost
$ 10
$(17)


There were no other changes in plan assets and benefit obligations recognized in our retirement and postretirement plans for the year ended December 31, 2009.

We consider a number of factors in determining and selecting assumptions for the overall expected long-term rate of return on plan assets. We consider the historical long-term return experience of our assets, the current and expected allocation of our plan assets, and expected long-term rates of return. We derive these expected long-term rates of return with the assistance of our investment advisors and generally base these rates on a 10-year horizon for various asset classes, our expected investments of plan assets and active asset management as opposed to investment in a passive index fund. We base our expected allocation of plan assets on a diversified portfolio consisting of domestic and international equity securities, fixed income, real estate, private equity securities and alternative asset classes.

We consider a variety of factors in determining and selecting our assumptions for the discount rate at December 31.We consider certain market indices and including Moody’s Corporate AA longterm bond rate, the Citigroup Pension Liability rate, other high-grade bond indices a single equivalent discount rate derived with the assistance of our actuaries by matching expected future cash flows in each year to the appropriate spot rates based in high quality (rated AA or better) corporate bonds.

Our target asset allocations consists of approximately 30% – 95% equity, 10% – 40% fixed income, 10% – 35% real estate and other and the remaining 0% – 10% in cash. Our actual retirement and postretirement plans’ asset allocations by level within the fair value hierarchy at December 31, 2009, are presented in the table below. Our retirement and postretirement plans’ assets were accounted for at fair value and are classified in their entirety based on the lowest level of input that is significant to the fair value measurement. Our assessment of the significance of a particular input to the fair value measurement requires judgment, and may affect the valuation of fair value assets and their placement within the fair value hierarchy levels. For more information on a description of the fair value hierarchy, see Note 1.

  Retirement plans (1)   Postretirement plan
In millions Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Total % of total   Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Total % of total
Cash $ 12 $ — $ — $ 12 4%   $1 $— $— $1 2%
Equity Securities                      
U.S. large cap(2)
73 73 24%   31 31 54%
U.S. small cap(2)
44 44 14%  
International companies(3)
35 5 40 13%   11 11 19%
Emerging markets(4)
13 13 4%  
Fixed income securities
Corporate bonds(5)
55 55 18%   14 14 25%
Other types of investments
Global hedged equity(6)
33 33 11%  
Absolute return(7)
26 26 8%  
Private capital (8)
13 13 4%  
Total assets at fair value $129 $103 $77 $309 100%   $1 $56 $— $57 100%
% of fair value hierarchy 42% 33% 25% 100%     2% 98% 100%  

(1) Includes $6 million of medical benefit (health and welfare) component for 401h accounts to fund a portion of the postretirement obligation
(2) Includes funds that invest primarily in U.S. common stocks
(3) Includes funds that invest primarily in foreign equity and equity-related securities
(4) Includes funds that invests primarily in common stocks of emerging markets
(5) Includes funds that invest primarily in investment grade debt and fixed income securities
(6) Includes funds that invest in limited / general partnerships, managed accounts, and other investment entities issued by non-traditional firms or “hedge funds”
(7) Includes funds that invest primarily in investment vehicles and commodity pools as a “fund of funds”
(8) Includes funds that invest in private equity and small buyout funds, partnership investments, direct investments, secondary investments, directly / indirectly in real estate and may invest in equity securities of real estate related companies, real estate mortgage loans, and real-estate mezzanine loans

The following is a reconciliation of assets in level 3 of the fair value hierarchy.

Retirement Plans

In millions Total International equity Global hedged equity Absolute return Private capital
Beginning balance at December 31, 2008 $65 $3 $27 $23 $12
Actual return on plan assets:
Relating to assets still held at the reporting date
10 2 6 3 (1)
Relating to assets sold during the period:
Purchases, sales and settlements (net)
2 2
Transfers in and/or out of Level 3
Ending balance at December 31, 2009 $77 $5 $33 $26 $13



Employee Savings Plan Benefits

We sponsor the Retirement Savings Plus Plan (RSP), a defined contribution benefit plan that allows eligible participants to make contributions to their accounts up to specified limits. Under the RSP, we made matching contributions to participant accounts of $7 million in 2009 and $6 million in both 2008 and 2007.