more power grid info : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I called the DOE here in MT yesterday. They were very willing to give info to me. They are very concerned about Y2K. quote 'not finishing this project is not an option'.

I asked if the power grid could be run manually. The answer was 'yes on a short term basis only, running manually is not sustainable'.

----- Today I talked to the facility manager at the local hydro plant for about 25 minutes. Listed below are the questions and answers from that conversation.

1. What is the status of your y2k project? all hardware inspected and necessary changes made. the hardware has been tested(must have been in manual mode). bill for labour was 30k. still working on software. (I forgot to ask what the software did or when they would be done with that. sorry, am new at this).

2. is it possible for your plant to be running ok and a problem occur somewhere else in the power grid? yes, once the power leaves the plant we are not responsible for it. (the plant sends power to WAPA which sends it to the national power grid. will question WAPA next).

3. do all power plants have the ability to run in manual mode? yes.

4. What if coal burners can not get fuel because of problems with the railroads? that is a good question, I had not thought of that.(have to cut the guy some slack, he is a hydro plant).

5. Do the nukes have to shut down when telecommunications go out? don't know the answer to that. we have radio backup systems in place here.

------ both the DOE and the hydro plant were willing to stay on the line and talk about this for as long as I wanted. However, I got conflicting answers about being able to run manually. My guess is that the problem is not at the plant level but at the national power grid level.

Also called my congressman about Y2K. His office told me that their was lots on info available on the internet. Thank you very much.

-- areseejay (, September 23, 1998


Meanwhile, a review of the recent NERC report on Y2K and the power industry, by Rick Cowles, can be read at http:// This review "pulls no punches", and shows how the "cautious optimisim" referenced by the report is more like "fancifal wishing" (my opinion).

-- Joe (, September 24, 1998.

Actually, based on my experience in the power industry from the supply end (quality control for coal mines - which requires you to certainly be very aware of a LOT of power issues) his answer is pretty much what I would expect. (I switched over, got a BS in Computer Science now, so I kinda have an advantage over most folks on this problem.) Power generation does not worry me over much, pretty much all the older plants have manual controls and can still use them. Nuclear plants? don't know - they don't use coal. Hydro plants don't use much in the way of controls involving generation - just some gimmicks to make a better match between the power in the line and the power being generated - they can run without them. The coal plants are pretty much solid steam engine technology on the hot side - on the electric side the generators can always run - after all, if hot steam goes into the turbines the generators had better turn - otherwise something is gonna give! The major use of PLC's and computers is in the ancillary equipment - pollution controls and conveyor belt controls. Give a good electrician a day or so and he will wire around all the controls and get you back on line. When the power goes into the grid - then it comes under the control of an awful lot of switching devices - all controlled by computer. THAT has to be fixed, or power will only flow into the local grid. I can afford to be complacent about this - I live only a couple hours south of Kentucky Lake, and near many other TVA power plants, both coal and hydro. Folks in California had better get ready for problems - the Greens have kept power plants out of CA to such an extent the state imports a lot of its power. When the lights go out in LA, the water from the mountains will cease to flow. When that happens, LA will not be habitable. Personally, I hope they lynch all the Greens during the evacuation - building a city the size of LA in a damn desert, and then forcing it to get power and water from hundreds of miles away rather than purifying ocean water and generating power locally is just - well I don't have a description. Just let it be said that if the power is out in LA for two weeks and evacuation is not possible - only a small percentage of LA citizens still there will be alive. There just is not enough local water to go around. Still, living in TN next to the Mississippi River, with warm winter weather, and surrounded by power plants gives me some breathing room. If I lived in St. Paul or Chicago I would be more likely to worry about power and heat than supply disruptions, which are my current greatest concern.

-- Paul Davis (, September 28, 1998.

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