Y2K - Expert Says Power Outages 'Could Be Extensive'

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Y2K - Expert Says Power Outages 'Could Be Extensive' Kate Snow CNN Correspondent 3-30-99 (CNN) -- Imagine waking up to a world with no electricity. The lights are out, the air is chilly, elevators have stopped and security systems are down. And forget about whether your PC is Y2K compliant. You can't even turn it on. Will next New Year's be remembered as the night the lights went out? Power engineer Dick Mills, a columnist for Westergaard Online, says the power outages could be extensive. "If we have a regional level blackout, basically everything goes out except places with backup generators." The problem lies with time microprocessors called embedded chips. They are in thousands of them in electrical gadgets, appliances and complex systems like power stations. It is estimated that only a small number of these chips will fail, but the problem is no one knows which ones. Most experts say there will be outages that will not last long. They say power interruptions will not be widespread, and even if they do affect critical systems, backup plans are in place. Nuclear power plants are also checking for potential glitches, but that takes time. A recent report by the Senate Y2K Committee says individual nuclear plants are at various stages of fixing the problem. The report also says the natural gas industry is behind when it comes to fixing the millennium computer bug problem. Gary Gardner of the American Gas Association says gas heated homes will stay warm on January 1. "It's an industry that's focused on the safe and reliable delivery of gas. Anything that could be a danger or vulnerability to that, they're addressing and addressing hardcore." Often overlooked in the frenzy are phone systems that are very dependent on computer technology. Bell South's Rick Harder says his company will do its best to guarantee uninterrupted service. "We will continue, right up until the 11th hour, to look wherever we feel we need to, wherever there's any indication that we haven't surfaced all the problems at this point in time." In fact, the Department of Energy wants utilities to have their critical systems Y2K compliant by June 30. David Swanson of Edison Electric insists that their systems will be ready. "We see this as a challenge and an opportunity to demonstrate that we can be there, have the lights on, even with something as complicated as Y2K." That's reassuring, especially for something as important as the party of the millennium.

-- Y2K Pro (1@2.3), March 31, 1999


I thought (1@2.3) was that Doomslayer nerd?

-- Confused (wh@ts.goingon?), March 31, 1999.

>Gary Gardner of the American Gas Association says gas heated homes will stay warm on January 1.

Gee, every gas-heated home I've lived in had (a) an electrically-powered fan to distribute the gas-heated air from the furnace through the ductwork and (b) a thermal interlock in the gas furnace that shut off the flame if the air there got too hot because it wasn't being distributed through the ductwork by the fan. Guess it was just my imagination that the house got cold when the electricity went off during winter.

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), March 31, 1999.

Gee, funny thing No Spam. Seems to me that my house gets real cold when the electricity is off too......must be than fannish thingy that quits going around.

Who is this Gardner guy and how could he miss the obvious?

Last week, the power went off in my house twice. Once for about an hour and a half and the second time for a few minutes. Our power reliability seems to be slipping already.

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), April 01, 1999.

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