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Probrand Powers Whitetower Energy Transition With Seamless IT Services

The Client

Whitetower Energy is a former subsidiary of Rolls Royce that was sold to American venture capital firm Rockland Capital in 2019. It owns multiple power stations across the UK, using primarily gas turbine engines to generate power that helps to support the electrical grid during periods of peak demand.

Formerly known as Rolls Royce Power Development, Whitetower supports 40 + employees across its entire operation, most of which are technical and operations that operate and maintain the power plants.

The Challenge

When owned by Rolls Royce, Whitetower Energy had the support of an extensive, well-established corporate IT operation. The transition to Rockland Capital left it with limited internal IT capability. Rather than attempting to develop this internal ability, the company opted for a more efficient, cost-effective solution. It needed a partner to step in and provide a comprehensive IT service that would help it to support the five sites that it brought to Rockland, along with any future acquisitions.

Whitetower's American owners went looking for a company that could cover all of its administrative IT needs in a single package. It found Probrand thanks to its solid reputation in the UK.

The Solution

Probrand quickly adapted to support Whitetower's unique needs. 43 of its 46 staff work for a US-owned company called NAES, which handles Operations and Maintenance (O&M) management. This company would be dealing with Probrand on a daily basis. Probrand would also have to work indirectly with solutions from a range of operational technology (OT) providers that supplied industrial control systems for the Whitetower plants.

Probrand organised a migration to Microsoft 365, including the cloud-based Office productivity suite and several services in the Azure cloud. However, Whitetower realised that its operational technology partners required it to have some on-premises IT functionality. Probrand moved fast, developing plans for a range of services, including leased line connectivity to the internet and internal network infrastructure, along with the provision and maintenance of servers and endpoints managed by full round-the-clock IT support staff.

Resilience and security were also crucial, explains Michael Strutt, CEO of Whitetower Energy. "A business like ours needs backup systems in place to support our contracts with National Grid and to have security measures in place," he says. Cloud backup and disaster recovery services protected Whitetower's mission-critical operations from unexpected downtime. Probrand implemented antivirus and email security, along with endpoint security on Whitetower's laptops. It also manages the company's firewalls.

Anticipating technology roll-outs across multiple sites, Probrand also created a template to ensure consistent IT deployments. This has enabled the team to replicate IT quickly between multiple Whitetower sites. Whitetower sees more opportunities in the UK market, and Probrand's preparation means that it will be able to bring new sites under its management quickly and seamlessly in the future.

"One of Probrand's strongest attributes is their communication," says Strutt. "I think that's really been key in our transition." This emphasis on clarity and consistency enabled the service provider to step in and handle the IT challenges during Whitetower Energy's acquisition of the 245MW Peterborough gas turbine facility from Centrica in 2021.

"Centrica threw lots of things at us and Probrand sat in on calls and handled it all," Strutt recalls. There were weekly meetings over a six-month time span to ensure that the transition in ownership happened with no operational disruption. Probrand's team planned for the transfer and operation of existing Centrica systems including IT for the facility's gate controls, and security cameras at the plant. "The company had a broad understanding of the IT side of things and was always there to advise us on it," Strutt says.

The Result

Probrand's close work with Whitetower helped the energy generator to expand its combined energy capacity to 650MW through the acquisition of two new facilities, including Centrica's. The relationship has become so close that Probrand is now helping Whitetower with the IT for a brand new control room that will consolidate two existing sites, offering more capacity to support more sites in the future. Probrand is upgrading technology that is more than a decade old to drive more efficiencies into Whitetower's operation.

"Transitioning IT is a daunting task for any business, but Probrand has made it very easy," concludes Strutt. "Probrand is more than a support provider; it has become a true partner."