Is this being blown out of proportion? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have read that the doomsday predictions of no electrical power after 2000 is a lot of hoopla; that the industry does not rely on computers for the actual delivery of power, just the accounting, billing, etc.. Can someone in the know please comment?

-- John Townsend (, July 08, 1998


Yup, you got us, they way I hear it the power company just sends old Joe out to the switch box and routes 4000 kw to Albany.


-- j (, July 08, 1998.

I thought they sent Phil out to do that! By the way, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Commonwealth Edison is trying to dump all of it's power plants. They would like to get rid of them by the middle of 1999. I wonder what brought this on? Think they found out about Y2K?

-- Annie (, July 08, 1998.

Why don't all of you folks in denial start reading the PRESS CLIPPINGS at There is a wealth of information about the power companies at this site. At least 10 new stories were just added about how Canda, the US and other countries are fearing a power crash. These articles are from major news publication around the world and are updated daily! Please go and read them!!!!!!

-- Annie (, July 08, 1998.

They are dumping those power plants because it will cost millions to fix them. They already own the largest collection of old nuke plants outside of Russia and they would love to dump those as well. Late 99 you could probably buy one of those nukes for a dollar.

Phil was on vacation so old Joe stepped in. Since Phil kept no documentation on the process Joe actually flipped the wronge switch and set 80,000 kw to Albany and they now have no power, just like Aukland NZ. Albany's circuit could only handle 10,000 kw so it melted and now Joe has been promoted to management.


-- j (, July 08, 1998.

Actually if you read Eds book, he points out that if they think your account in is arrears they will turn off your electricity, so it does matter if the billing is screwed up.

-- Amy Leone (, July 08, 1998.

Joe just electrocuted Ready Eddy who was in the process of putting up a downed wire......OOOPS! It's the power grid that's in jeopardy and even the utility company's are worried and admit the problem!

-- Barb-Douglas (, July 08, 1998.

There is a millennium bug infecting computer systems, but also a bug that is infecting most of the people who have responded to the sincere inquiry of John Townsend. All of the nuclear plants in operation in our country were built prior to the digital wave and use analogue control systems. In addition, they can be operated manually, and so can conventional power plants The failure of the power supply is not a foregone conclusion, and I'm not saying there won't be difficultities, but it sure is an exciting prospect for a crowd of young people who have rarely gotten their hands dirty with real work and don't know what the hell they're doing when they beat on the drums of disaster.

-- Joseph Danison (, July 08, 1998.

Agreed, Joe. The doom and gloom crowd consistently take positive news or upbeat ideas to task and that tells me a helluva lot about what this 'problem' is all about and how it has played upon emotions instead of brainwaves. I talked recently with a local power company exec who backed up your posting and at the same time stated that the local company is not only expecting to have the situation well in hand, but also will divest itself from the infamous 'power grid' and the likes of those companies that have dragged their feet on this issue and sadly, aren't compliant. Of course, the individuals who have posted above will find some error in all of this....or is it just that I am too blue sky?

Naw. Please....just back up anxiety-riddled posts will some real, bonafide facts...that's all. Make me a believer in something more than just what might or what could happen.

-- Professor K (, July 08, 1998.

When you say " I talked recently with a local power company exec who backed up your posting and at the same time stated that the local company is not only expecting to have the situation well in hand, but also will divest itself from the infamous 'power grid' and the likes of those companies that have dragged their feet on this issue and sadly, aren't compliant", it sure sounds to me like your local power company executive is confirming that there will indeed be problems with the power grid, and there are indeed companies that won't be compliant, and your local power company will be in trouble if it is still connected. Since the power grid actually provides a tremendous benefit of load shifting, he seems to be confirming that that benefit won't generally be available for some time after Y2k. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..........

-- Dan Hunt (, July 09, 1998.

Federal law states that if a power generation station is able to produce power it must stay connected to the grid. I imagine that when these compliant companies see the grid failing they will disconnect. Hopefully it will not be to late and they will survive. If it is a coal fired plant they better pray that the trains do not have to pass thru any affected area. See, train switching equipment is no longer manual and it draws power from the local grid. My parents were with various railroads for 30 years and no manual switching exists outside some city yards.

True the nukes were designed with analog control and manual systems. The security and monitoring to the NRC are semi-state of the art. The NRC is not even compliant, and they are requiring all plants that report to them on a second by second basis over a private network managed by the telcos(not compliant) be compliant. Seems to me a link in that chain is broken, ok, two or more. Also, if local emergency response is disrupted, fire or police or medical, the nuke plant must shut down.

Power generation, even nuke, is a very simple process. It is the layers of control and reporting that will cause the havoc.

Dig deeper people, denial is just one phase.


-- j (, July 09, 1998.

No, it's not being blown out of proportion.

First, the idea that computers aren't involved in the generation and transmission of power was debunked over a year ago, when a few people began to call attention to the concept of "embedded systems" microprocessors that are buried in power plants.

Nuclear plants don't rely as much on digital systems for control, but they certainly use them for reporting, including safety reporting, with the result that the NRC has indicated that they will shut the nukes down unless they are able to certify compliance. It doesn't matter if the plant is shut down for safety purposes----operation in an unalyzed environment---or if it's failed.

If John really asked the question looking for an answer (and wasn't trolling) do some research. Start at:

read both the articles and lurk on the forum.

Then, go to

and look under both 'Power Grid' and 'Non-Compliant Chips'

Professor K, who is searching for 'real bonafide facts' could take the same route.

Disconnecting from the grid? Doesn't that make you wonder, professor? If there's no problem why would anyone want to disconnect from the grid?

But, in spite of being confronted with page after page of 'real bona fide' facts, asking for further proof is denial. Senator Bennett's comment that if January 1, 2000 occurred tomorrow there would be a 100% chance of the entire grid going down, isn't convincing?

-- Rocky Knolls (, July 09, 1998.

When I first became aware of Y2K a year ago, one of the first articles I read was about a power plant in Hawaii. (not sure if it was a nuke). When they tested to see if they had a Year 2000 problem, the plant shut down. We do have a problem with power generation. I also talked to my power local power companies and was told by one that "they had to go through millions of lines of code" to check for dates. The other company told me the same thing, and were very open about the Y2K problem. One company also said we should check out TV's, VCR's, HVAC systems, etc. for the bug. I would have to say that those who tell you otherwise of full of it!

-- Annie (, July 09, 1998.

ProfessorK: For someone who seeks "bonafide facts", as you requested, it is surprizing that you are willing to accept undocumented assurances from your "power company executive" who is "expecting" to have the situation in hand. Did he provide written documents to confirm his or her 'expectations'? Was this individual willing to give you a written guarantee that your power would not be disrupted by y2k? What agency or service provided or will provide independent testing of the utility? Without these three simple assurances (on paper) -- that is, bonafide facts -- that the y2k issue has been successfully resolved, you're not dealing with evidence, either. A. Evangelista

-- A. Evangelista (, July 09, 1998.

Hello again, all. Thanks for the very pointed questions. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough. First off, the power company exec was not contacted as Joe Consumer to Power Conglomerate. The man in question is a neighbor...a friend. Secondly, I have no doubts about the power grid being reliant upon the total picture, that is, one power company relying upon others to solve problems. I have no doubt that some along the power grid will in fact have problems in 2000. In this regard, please don't misconstrue me with a Blue Sky Individual. Yet to all of those who wish to take me to task for seeking bonafide facts, you'll have to do better than Gary North and Don McIlvaney. The fine line between fact, fiction, worst-case scenarios and general hysteria are blurred with these individuals and apparently, (in the case of many here) have led some to believe the sky is falling.

I have done too much research on the matter to believe the doom and gloom set. I agree there is a problem and there will be problems. I am much more concerned with countries that do business with us paying mere lip service to the problem, thereby dragging our economy down in 2000. But still, I prefer intellect over emotion. Whether it is religion, our way of life, y2k or astrology nuts, doom is supposedly always a possible outcome...and has been for years.

-- Professor K (, July 09, 1998.

I sent a fax to Tacoma (WA) Public Utilities. Here's the reply: "This letter responds to your inquiry of June 10, 1998, concerning Year 2000 (Y2K) problems. A City team has been studying potential impacts of Y2K related equipment problems on City of Tacoma operations. We have a plan in place to address any disruption of service caused by the turn of the century. (Para.) The plan includes developing an exhaustive inventory of all hardware and software that might be affected by Y2K including calibration equipment, protective relays, communication and control systems, and financial billing functions. (Para) We also have a testing strategy designed to identify affected equipment failure of which could post potential harm to life and property. If any critical equipment is identified in our testing it will be replaced, staffed, or turned off. (Para) Finally, we have a mitigation plan to solve any unforeseen problems. During the transition period every critical piece of equipment subject to Y2K issues will be staffed with knowledgeable personnel who will have a plan to remedy any equipment failure. (Para) We hope that this response has addressed your concerns. The City of Tacoma is taking action to identify and resolve any date sensitive problems that may affect your services including supply, distribution, and billing." He closes with a local phone number and invites me to contact him with "any questions or concerns." His title is: "Year 2000 Project Manager." Should this great granny be comforted by the above? ( We have hydroelectric power out here on the West coast.) I would appreciate replies, but those with only sarcasm and no knowledge need not answer! I also Emailed the County Public Utilities office, particularly regarding the sewer systems and human waste. I will post their answer on this site under: Know your sources. Know your "computer friends."

-- Holly Allen (, July 09, 1998.

Just a note of thanks to Holly. After reading the latest news blips from De Jager's site and the recent musings here, I was wondering two things: 1. If anyone had any type of positive news 2. if anyone was even working on the problem.

Thanks again

-- Professor K (, July 09, 1998.

Professor K,

Let's review the bidding, shall we?

An official of your local power company begins making noises about knocking down the power grid by disconnecting. The failure of power generation and transmission plants is well documented on the web. A water/wastewater consultant noted at a breakfast with congressional aides that he's never seen a plant *pass* Article after article on Peter de Jager's site calls attention to either new problems or documents new ones. You've been referenced to Cory Hamasaki's web site.......Cory is a mainframe consultant in DC, and that site is complete with statements that indicate he is privy to information indicating that numerous mainframe systems will fail. Senate hearing after senate hearing exposes weaknesses in utilities, in government response to the problem, to lack of corporate effort. Ed Yourdan presents a life time's worth of experience noting the rate at which computer program modification is historically late (or cancelled).

Your claim that there are no real bona fide facts to indicate a serious problem. You also claim to give precedence to intellect rather than emotion.

If, as you claim, you really have researched the net, and you don't find anything to indicate that we may just be in a mess come 2000, then I must ask whether you're really grasping what you claim to be reading? What is it that you don't understand?

I don't claim that y2k will be the end of the world. But, I sure believe that we're going to have major problems, including anything from a severe recession to a depression, driven a lot by the failure of businesses that have failed to grasp the problem. I believe that we'll have major problems with federal collection and expenditures, and I beleive that we'll have problem with power, water, & sewage, based on the information that is available to both of us on the web.

I also believe, from history, that we can (*can*, not *will*)have a lot of social unrest if we have a combination of amputated federal payments, lack of power, and disruptions in a shakey emergency response system. Is that really hard to grasp?

Given the relatively high probability of such occurring, I will protect myself and my family to the greatest extent possible. That means ignoring people who claim to do research, are unable to present valid arguments to support their rosy glasses contention, but demand that anyone who differs from them present 'real bona fide facts.'

-- Rocky Knolls (, July 09, 1998.

Rocky, what I fail to grasp are the might, may, could scenarios that you cling to. Your interpretation of facts are in reality worse-case scenarios being related by various talking heads around the web. Quite possibly, you are easily swayed by the lengthy diatribes that eminate from some of your favorite websites, like a child, mistaking rumor for fact. Wow, that's some substantiation you have there.

THAT is what I fail to grasp, friend. The testimony you speak of, the scenarios which are presented by the likes of De Jager, and Yourdon, and Yardeni, and North and McIlvaney...are nice...but in essence, are speculation. None of the above have pretended to believe that they have an insight into what actually WILL happen. All have stated that these are things which MAY occur. Given the shakey status of things in the world today, we may all be gone long before 1/1/00 ever becomes a reality. Maybe I should go out and build my bomb shelter now, or like Howard Hughes, wear a surgical mask wherever I go. After all, the internet tells me all about it, so it must be fact.

Point is, I have read all of the articles you speak of...and many, many more. And like you, I know to ignore the miscellaneous, anxiety-riddled blabberings of fools who'd cower into the woods at the first sign of trouble.

I am still waiting for info on what will happen...not what may. I'll protect my family too, just in case, and first and foremost, I'll protect them from some of the carpetbaggers who'll seek to cash in on it all.

-- Professor K (, July 09, 1998.

I do not pretend to know what will be the outcome of this millennium bug, but what I have learned in my research is that no one else does, either! I respect the courage and insight of Gary North, I doff my cap to Ed Yourdon and all the others who give of their time and energy. This issue is huge because it involves an effort on the part of every concerned person to grasp the complexity of the System and then to form a judgement. When one's best efforts yield only uncertainty, there are few who can accept this. Some will gravitate towards worst-case, some will embrace the guts & grit positivism of good old American ingenuity, but in the presence of uncertainty, all will come face to face with the most complex issue of all: one's own sweet self. Whatever the outcome of y2k, it ought to be an enlightening experience for all involved because at this point, whatever one says about it reflects more about oneself than about the objective problem, and this applies to Gary & Ed, et. al. Soon enough we will know what the outcome of y2k will be, but in the meantime we're looking in a mirror, trying to decide who we are as much as we are developing objective information!

-- Joseph Danison (, July 09, 1998.

The effect of y2k will be felt long before 01/01/00. Typically, business's do some sort of scheduling, ordering, or planning out in the future. If the system has not been fixed to handle the 00 issue correctly, problems will crop up. 01/01/00 will be very touchy for real time embedded systems but software problems will start and have started now as we approach 01/01/2000. The closer we get the more problems will surface.

have fun,


-- j (, July 10, 1998.

"I am still waiting for info on what will happen...not what may." -Perfesser K

Dear Lord but I am tired of this sort of crap. The issues before the world don't hinge on your pathetic analysis. All that matters is there is a statistically significant probability that systems failures globally will create havoc and disrupt people's lives. That is all any of us can *know*. You and your ilk post on forums such as this attempting to sound erudite and reasoned. People coming late to the party read your pontifications and decide that maybe it isn't so bad and now is not the time to prepare for some level of inconvenience. Your insipid blathering is insidiously evil for it saps the will to act from folks who can be persuaded by pseudo-intellectual slop. Human nature always wishes to hear information that reinforces currently held belief systems. What you do is full of unintended consequences, you moron. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IS UNKNOWABLE. The only rational course in the face of overwhelming circumstantial evidence is storage of necessities on an individual basis. That will strengthen our communities and our nation, your vapid attempts at thinking do nothing but feed your pathetic ego. The time for this kind of mental masturbation is long gone. There are only two courses of action for us peasants, prepare or don't prepare. Take both choices and compare the consequences of being WRONG. If all you can add to the fabric are reasons NOT TO PREPARE, do us all a favor and shut up. You are hurting this country, bozo.

-- Will Huett (, July 10, 1998.

"If all you can add to the fabric are reasons NOT TO PREPARE, do us all a favor and shut up. You are hurting this country, bozo." Will Huett (or is it Will Hurt?)

In other words, "if you have an opinion other than mine...shut up"? I believe YOU are the bozo, and YOUR type of "insipid blathering" idiots are hurting this country.

-- Anti Will (fool) (, July 10, 1998.

I attended the Y2K Conference in Chicago which concluded on July 1. None of the well known experts at the conference, Ed Yourdon, Leon Kappelman, Capers Jones, Rick Cowles, to name a few, pretended to "know" what was going to happen with any kind of precision. Rick Cowles admitted that the utilities industry has simply never faced such a prolem, which is true of all the other industries in the world. I believe people lurch towards a worst case scenario for one simple reason: the y2k bug is an historic anomaly. Never before in history have all the world's systems, organizations, institutions and governments faced exposure to a threat that could compromise their ability to function AT THE SAME EXACT TIME. It's weird, unprecedented and impossible for an individual or group of individuals to come up with any predictions that are reliable. It is this threat to every entity, whether it be a 3% to 97% threat of failure to each that makes the possibilities so numbing. My conclusion is that we will be facing "accelerated entropy" -- a steady degradation of all our systems begining in 1999. We may have power until February or March and then, poof, finally some tangental, unforseen straw snaps the camel's back.

-- Leonardo (, July 10, 1998.

" In other words, "if you have an opinion other than mine...shut up"? I believe YOU are the bozo, and YOUR type of "insipid blathering" idiots are hurting this country. " -Auntie Will

Opinions are like assholes Anti, everyone's got one. You don't agree with me, who the hell cares? I don't. You think there isn't a problem, don't do anything about it. If you are wrong you will suffer, that's the way the world REALLY works. Just don't whine to me about my callous manner, this is real and the more people that go buy some beans and water, the better for us all.

-- Will Huett (, July 10, 1998.

Will, I had a chuckle at your marvelous posting and admittedly, anit-fools beat me to the punch in terms of a response. Your totalitarian, agree with me or get the hell out posting was laughable, as is your pseudo-intellectual prose. You hit the nail on the head, though, in one regard. The future is inescapable, and an unknown entity. Just as in life, one can look at the entire picture optimistically or pessimistically. You and your ilk choose the latter and rail at those who seek a balance....both bad AND good news.

I learned a long time ago that when someone makes no inroads intellectually speaking, he'll tend to lapse into name-calling and profanity. Thanks for confirming that idea.

Merrill Lynch issued a 450 page report today. The Boston Globe and USA Today reported on companies making advancements last week. The London Times reported on the Rubik's Cube inventor's efforts to piggy-back a computer to make detection of faulty code much quicker. A writer for the UK-based Computer Times spoke to someone from Silicon Valley recently about tools which will greatly aid in this battle...but having studied the market, ascertained that the time isn't right....uh...yet.

Blabber on in your anxiety, friend. Your foolish scribblings are laughable and again, your facts rely more upon worst-case scenarios and rumor than of substance. Hopefully for you, the psychological profession will have no problems with y2k.

-- Professor K (, July 10, 1998.

I'm wondering why someone who doesn't believe Y2K to be a "real" threat would be frequenting this forum? I suspect you may be trying to convince yourself "we" are indeed over reacting, or perhaps still trying to convince yourself you aren't under reacting? Or perhaps you simply have a lot of time on your hands to amuse yourself with our manical postings??

-- Lisa (, July 10, 1998.

I think perhaps the good Prof.likes to demonstrate his "Rapier" sharp wit upon we, the great unwashed. Many people who feel very inferior like to act superior by dress or manner or in this case, verbal superiority and High School debating team tactics. You must admit he is skilled.

-- Bill Solorzano (, July 10, 1998.

Rating from 1 to 10, I'd give Will Huett's flame an 8. Still one of the best to be posted to this forum. Only profanity--"crap. Only namecallling--"Moron" and "Bozo." Altogether a well-written, amusing and rather restrained presentation. Sad to see appreciation of the fine art of the flame diminishing in general here and elsewhere on the web. Will and Prof seem equally matched and consistantly entertaining. Thanks, guys for brightening my day.


"If you want to connect with their conscious minds, smack them on the head with a two by four -- don't be subtle, write with a hammer."---Richard Reese

-- Hallyx (, July 10, 1998.

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