City of Milwaukee Preparing : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I was pleased to see this today. With alot of relatives and friends in the city. It won't solve all the problems but its a good start.

City to buy generators for year 2000

13 power units expected to cost about $1 million

By Greg J. Borowski of the Journal Sentinel staff

March 26, 1999

The city is preparing to spend about $1 million on 13 new generators to guard against potential year 2000 computer problems, including five portable ones that can be moved to trouble spots come New Year's morning.

The plan would put two permanent generators at the Police Administration Building downtown and others at communication towers and dispatch centers. Fire stations would be equipped with special connections that would allow the portable generators to be hooked up easily.

In addition, a generator would be placed in the 809 Broadway building, part of the City Hall complex, where most of the city's main computers are located.

District police stations, along with some other city buildings, already have generators.

In addition to the fire stations, about 20 Department of Public Works yards and other key locations will be set up to handle the portable generators.

Officials say the generator plan has been scaled back from an initial wish list with an eye toward the most critical systems and making purchases that can be used over and over again.

"This is a long-term investment," said Randy Gschwind, the city's point man on year 2000 computer issues.

"Commercial generators last 25 or more years."

At one point, planners called for generators to be installed at all 36 neighborhood fire stations, but it was deemed too expensive.

Instead, each station will be fitted with the special generator-friendly hookup.

That will cost about $10,000 at each location -- an amount between five and 10 times less than the cost of a generator.

Early on, planners thought they may need a generator at one of the city's water plants, which could have carried a $3.5 million price tag itself.

But they became more convinced that the water plants won't lose power.

The scaled-back approach is a result of officials believing that while some problems with power may be inevitable, citywide power failures are unlikely.

"The only reason you need generators in every part of the city is if all electric generation shuts down," said Ald. Don Richards, chairman of the Common Council's Information Policy Committee.

"If that happens, we'll have more problems than generators will be able to solve anyway."

The generators are part of city preparations for the year 2000, when the switch from 1999 to 2000 threatens to cause problems for computer systems that read the two-digit date as "00." The so-called Y2K bug could wreak computerized havoc on everything from fire trucks to street lights to the water supply.

So far, the city has spent an estimated $5 million to address the computer-related problems, though it's hard to get a handle on what the actual bill is.

For instance, a new $22 million computer system to handle accounting, purchasing and other business functions is Y2K-compliant, but it was not bought specifically for that purpose.

In addition, the Common Council has already approved borrowing up to $10 million this year for Y2K-related problems. The pre-approval means money will be able to be spent more quickly if problems crop up.

Officials hope to find the $1 million for the generators within existing department budgets. This is the plan for the 13 generators, a number that could be increased by the council:

Five portable ones, each on a trailer that can be hauled to a trouble spot.

Two at the Police Administration Building.

One at the police dispatch center.

Four at radio towers throughout the city.

One at 809 Broadway.

The plan doesn't call for a generator to be placed at City Hall, although an existing generator in the nearby Zeidler Municipal Building can provide limited lights and elevator service in City Hall.

"We'll have to move quickly," Gschwind said.

"Pretty soon you won't be able to get generators delivered or installed by the end of the year."

-- maji (, March 26, 1999


Gee, I wonder if I could get a "generator friendly hook-up"?

-- y2klady2 (, March 26, 1999.

I'm in the Milwaukee area, so I was happy to see this story. Not sure it will mean much if TSHTF, however. Temporary solution, at best, but it's a step in the right direction.

-- Steve Hartsman (, March 26, 1999.

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