A rate-regulated electric utility company in the United States generates power from more than 15 power plants and carries it by way of more than 69,000 miles of power lines to approximately four million homes and businesses.
Clean natural gas, nuclear, wind and other renewable resources accounted for about 90 percent of the company's electricity output. As a clean energy leader, the utility company has one of the lowest emissions profiles and one of the leading energy efficiency programs among utilities nationwide.
As a utility company, the organization must handle many different situations no matter the time of day or extreme weather conditions, to keep power flowing. This utility company has been known to deliver more than 99.98 percent service reliability and their overall reliability, measured in average minutes without power, was 32 percent better than the national average.
To help improve and protect the infrastructure and technology responsible for delivering power, security officers are stationed at many company locations. However, at any time and at any location, there may be a need for extra security coverage. “The reasons can vary, but extra security coverage is always in high demand for us,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “This is not a plug and play kind of account because things can change at a fast pace. We also don’t always work in the same location, so the security manager has to be able to place officers where we need them. This takes dedication, teamwork and leadership.”
“Extra coverage may be needed multiple times a week,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “We may not know when those in the field will need it, or where, but our contract security partner needs to be able to provide coverage quickly and efficiently.”
“Since billing and invoicing can be challenging due to the extra requests, we need a dedicated individual in charge of keeping track of the hours and we have to be able to trust this person with the billing and invoicing,” the utility company’s director of corporate security explained. “It can become very complicated if the information is not correct, so we need a system that works for us and our provider.”
Extra security may be needed for emergency response and severe weather conditions. “If we have advanced warning of severe weather, we get a team together to set up staging sites at local malls, airports, racetracks, and other places where there is enough space to station our trucks and workers in case there is an outage,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “The staging sites are like mini villages that could last for weeks depending on the situation. We have meals prepped on site, laundry services, medical help and other amenities to keep our crew healthy and safe. It is security’s role to protect our sites and employees.”
When the electric utility company is not in emergency weather mode, employees can be found at substations, power plants, down power line areas, construction sites, distribution centers and power supply centers. Since security is needed at many of these locations, as well as the staging sites, they need high caliber, well-trained security officers.
“Depending on where the officers are, they need specific training,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “Some officers need MARSEC training and TWIC cards, others need special licenses to be armed, and all officers need to be well trained for this industry.” Maritime Security, or MARSEC, training can be defined as awareness, prevention, response and consequence management of ships, people and cargo. Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC, is a common identification credential for all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act regulated facilities and vessels, and all mariners holding Coast Guard-issued credentials.
In 2008, Allied Universal Security Services began providing regular and extra coverage security services for the electric utility company. “When the contract went out to bid, it came down to a handful of providers,” said Lillian Marinacci, client area manager, Allied Universal. “Allied Universal was chosen because of our level of experience, the trust and confidence that the utility company had in our abilities, and our overall promise of safety, security and peace of mind.”
“We felt comfortable with Allied Universal’s whole team through the entire decision process,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “They are honest and forthright about the services they can provide and they are the right fit for us.”
Each week, Allied Universal provides anywhere from 500 to more than 1,000 hours of extra coverage for the utility company. Marinacci helps orchestrate these extra shifts a few different ways. “Extra coverage requests are emailed to me. I then either personally contact our security officers to assign them the shifts or I work with other managers to staff the requests. We are always very careful when assigning the shifts to our officers as each extra detail usually has its own set of special requirements and/or training and we need to always be sure that we are selecting officers that can meet those needs,” stated Marinacci.
“By having a point person like Lillian, I can trust that we will get the coverage we need,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “I also know she will provide us the level of management we are looking for.”
Marinacci also handles the day-to-day security needs, including billing and invoices. “Our client needed someone to manage every aspect of the security program,” she explained. “I hand deliver each corporate invoice. This prevents invoices from ever getting lost and gives myself and my client’s management an opportunity to review invoices together to avoid any errors in billing or adjustments.”
Additional invoices for remote locations also have to go through Marinacci before they are forwarded to the proper individual. “Since I am made aware of the day-to-day operations at all of our client’s sites, I can make sure the invoices are correct, before the client ever sees them,” she said. “If things weren’t done this way, I can see it being a nightmare due to the amount of job numbers and invoices generated each week. I try to be kept in the loop on everything as it pertains to our client as their needs change every day and we need to stay on top of things to be able to manage the program efficiently.”
“Lillian is the key to managing the extra coverage and invoices,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “She takes personal ownership in the process which leads to better quality control. Even though it can be difficult handling all of the extra coverage, she does it very professionally and efficiently.”
The utility company’s director of corporate security also challenged Allied Universal to find the kind of high caliber security officers they were looking for. “Allied Universal and Lillian have been very effective at finding the right individuals for our needs,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “The officers have the training we are looking for and we have been able to build a great relationship with each of them.” The client’s security plans have always been designed to counter the threat of terrorist attacks and the security program is continually assessed in consultation with all levels of law enforcement to provide for modifications as conditions and needs change.
“Allied Universal and the utility company are partners,” said Marinacci. “We have the same high standards for safety and we are integrated into their culture. We truly are one big team working toward a common goal.”
“I have been very happy with the changes we made to our security program through Allied Universal and the improvements to our extra coverage strategy,” said the utility company’s director of corporate security. “Lillian and the Allied Universal team are critical to the program’s success and because of their diligence and response, my job is now easier.”
Note: Due to client confidentiality, we’ve withheld the client’s name from this case study.