Introduction & Background

Recently, Sierra Piedmont was retained to perform a comprehensive environmental compliance (EC) audit at an Atlanta-area electrical utility. The Director of Loss Prevention (DLP) had recently assumed responsibility for his utility’s EC and he wanted to better understand his EC situation. In addition to better focusing his attention on needy areas, the DLP also wanted to avoid significant legal and regulatory exposure. He realized the complexity of the task and needed an effective starting point.



Utility Company



Electrical Utilities



Atlanta, GA



Compliance Audit

Statement of Problem

How does someone quickly get their arms around their company’s EC status? One way is to audit the company’s facility in order to obtain a concise understanding of the following:

  • EC gaps: Areas where the utility company could potentially be out of compliance with applicable federal, state or local requirements such as underground storage tanks.
  • Gap closers: Cost effective approaches to addressing EC gaps.
  • Strengths and weaknesses: Where to focus the utility company’s precious resources.
  • Management practices: Recommendations that would improve his company’s EC performance, ensuring a sustainable approach.


To address the client’s concerns about his company’s EC, Sierra created a four step process:

  • Pre-visit questionnaire
  • Pre-visit research
  • Site visit
  • Action oriented audit report

The first two steps were conducted before the site visit. During the site visit, the audit team was to use a checklist-driven approach, based on information obtained during pre-visit activities, to focus on areas posing the most significant EC risk to the client. In addition, Sierra made note of potential areas of concern not covered on the checklists.


Sierra prepared a customized Pre-Site Visit Questionnaire for the DLP and his team to fi ll out. The questionnaire was intended to accomplish the following:

  • Provide insight into the different activities being performed at the company’s main (headquarters) facility and their impact on EC.
  • Identify items requiring further investigation before the site visit.
  • Focus on areas of concern during the site visit.

Following receipt and review of the completed questionnaire, Sierra followed up with the DLP to address minor questions and clarify several items in the questionnaire. Sierra also contacted local regulatory agencies to obtain information regarding permits, records of tanks and other EC-related information.