Cory Hamasaki : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Cory Hamasaki's 500 weather report is out. (must read)

-- James Chancellor (, August 19, 1998


I like Cory, and give a lot of weight to his opinions. However, he states that some small cities and towns will go on, with little disruption in daily life. I think that electric power is the thread, of which is woven our cloak of civilization. Without it society would immediately begin to unravel.

My logic is that y2k will not allow the option of middle-of-the-road scenarios; either we fix most of it or we loose it all. Cities, even small ones are dependent totally upon supply of potable water. Water systems are dependent (largely) upon electric power. No electricity = no water supply = no urban population centers = refugee-type population = disease and exposure = massive loss of life = no one to fix complex systems

Am I missing something? Your comments, please.

-- Lon Frank (, August 19, 1998.

I agree it is all or nothing, but Cory is very real and funny too:) Which helps to accept all of this! I think the morality of the area is going to be more important than size of town!

Roger in hawaii

-- Roger in hawaii (, August 19, 1998.

What you're missing is that electric power isn't all-or-nothing, and of all the power generated less than 10% (probably less than 1%) is used for the support of other essential infrastructures. Also most of the critical infrastructures have their own back-up power generation, usually diesel generators. There's a lot of redundancy in these systems.

Losing half the electricity generation would just mean power rationing via rotating power cuts. Losing 90% would mean total cessation of supply to all residential customers, street lighting, and all industries other than those deemed "essential". Neither scenario would be anything like as bad as the 100% nightmare; 10% would still allow for the pumping of water, sewage, oil and gas, heated community halls for those frozen out of their homes, and running those businesses which are critical for getting things fixed.

I do have to say that I'm glad I live in a country with a temperate winter climate. London (UK) with serious power outages is a much more pleasant prospect than, say, Chicago!

-- Nigel Arnot (, August 20, 1998.

Nigel, Thanks for your thought-worthy answer, but why isn't electricity an all-or-nothing proposition? If you predict a 10% shutdown, then you must believe that 100% of noncompliant embedded chips are to be found entirely within 10% of the power compaines! Isn't it more likely that the chip problem is pervasive throughout the grid, and will affect 100% of the companies, their generating stations, their routers, and switches etc? Again, my logic tells me that anything that occurs to bring the system down in part, which is systemic to the system, will bring the system down in total.

I'm certainly in over my head here, but I understand that embedded chips cannot be easily identified as compliant, and certainly not easily replaced. If they are indeed pervasive within the grid, won't they cause a grid-wide failure? And can they be found, fixed, or worked-around before the back-up generators run out of fuel?

Please continue to respond, I'm not beligerent, just ignorant.

-- Lon Frank (, August 20, 1998.

I think it is possible for parts but not all of the electric power supply to go down. The power grid could be negatively affected several ways. For example, nuclear plants could be shut down by the NRC because of not being proven safe. This would most heavily affect New England and Illinois/Wisconsin in the U.S. Coal powered plants could run out of coal after about 6 weeks (their normal inventory of coal) if the railroads get seriously degraded in their ability to operate at normal capacity. This would affect the eastern U.S. more than the western parts, I believe. In the Pacific Northwest, most power is supplied by hydroelectric plants. I imagine that these power plants at the dams probably have somewhat different control systems than other generating plants. And it would seem logical that if there are problems with power distribution, they would get fixed progressively starting with control mechanisms nearest the power plant and working outward down the distribution grid. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>.....

-- Dan Hunt (, August 22, 1998.

Thanks, Dan for your input. But I think we're still missing my main point here. Embedded chips are pervasive within the grid, and are indemic. All areas and functions of the grid will be similarly affected. If these chips cause a grid failure, it doesn't matter what kind of generation system you have or how much fuel stockpiled. If the chips brought it down in the first place, they must be fixed before it can be brought back up, must they not? I don't see anyone in the power industry adequately addressing the embbedded chip problem.

-- Lon Frank (, August 22, 1998.

I don't think that ALL power generation companies will be equally effected come 01/01/2000. Several reasons:

1. Not every company has the same equipment. Some will have some systems that will fail, others won't.

2. Some companies ARE doing good work. Some aren't. I supposed I'll get challenged to name one that is doing OK, so I've clipped a post from the c.s.y2k newsgroup. The person who posted this is respected on that group for his honesty in reporting to the best of his ability. He works for a large power generation scheme.

'nuff said, read what he has to say, today, Sunday, August 23.


Hi all,

As regular readers know, I am involved in remediation of PGs. I do this because it is what I know best, and what I feel is most important. Power utilities are somewhat different than most business as we have both the business software end of things, and the plant remediation. Two paths, and two teams, two government agencies (DOE and NRC). Last week we had our quarterly status review with all three concerned parties (the client being the third). As a result of this meeting, the following was arrived at.

Our plants, whose remediation was scheduled to be complete by third quarter 1999, are on schedule and on budget. We have found more problems than expected in some arenas, and less in others. Our nukes seem to be in the best shape, and barring some completely unforeseen issues, *WILL* be up and operational at rollover. Hydros also look good, but the grid issues are more complex and causing some concern. Fuel fired plants are where the big issues are at this point in time. The older ones (mostly coal) are our main source of concern. All this said, I think we will make it.

As to the business software side of things, I must say that I am impressed at the headway we are making. In reality, the worst problems we have had here are with systems believed to be compliant. This conclusion is arrived at either by analysis or from assurances by the third party vendors (Andersen, PeopleSoft, etc.). The problems here are those of isolating cogent test data. These systems are using DB2 as a data repository, but contain no DB2 RI (relational integrity). These vendors tend to do their RI programmatically (for purposes of portability), but are unwilling or unable to define these relationships. We have a tool in house (MOVE/DB2- Princeton SoftTec) which does wonderful thing in unloading relationally intact data from DB2. It will use either DB2 RI, RI defined to it's own catalogue, or both. Andersen sent a specialist in to do the definitions to MOVE, and with some tweaking and massaging, we now have good, pristine, relationally intact data. PeopleSoft has not been anywhere near as accommodating, and we are trying to find a workaround (looking into DB2 logs to try and work out the relationships). IDMS and IMS are causing their usual problems, but we're getting real good at hacking it out. The really big news is that after three days of meetings, we have decided to move our target date *FORWARD*. This has been done with the blessings of the client and both fedgov agencies. The original target was 3rd quarter 1999. We have now move to 2nd quarter 1999. I don't know too many other places where they are moving target dates closer. All in all, I'm very happy with our progress. It reaffirms my faith in the combination of good people and a good plan.

To sum things up, I now feel confident that WE WILL MAKE IT. I have also been hearing some good things from my peers at other PGs. Some of us are getting together in Boston next week for an informal pow-wow. At this time, I can't release the names of the PGs involved, but I intend to get the clearance to do so at the meeting, and will inform all when I can.

Once more into the breech go I,

mickey >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

In a subsequent post, mickey notes that this company is FAR ahead of the rest of the pack. As I said, some will be successful, and some companies will either fail or won't even bother trying (as evidenced by the Minnesota Utilities Commission report).


-- rocky knolls (, August 23, 1998.

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