Feedback please on WAll St. article : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I apologize if this was already posted, but if not, I'd like to hear some feedback on this article please.

~North America's Electric System Passes Year-2000 Readiness Test By REBECCA SMITH Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

North America's electric system sailed through its biggest test of Y2K readiness without any major mishaps.

More than 500 utilities, electric co-ops, power pools and generators in the U.S., Canada and Mexico jointly staged a dress rehearsal for Jan. 1, when it is feared the change to the year-2000 could unleash computer problems stemming from an inability to differentiate between the "00" in 1900 and the "00" in 2000.

Despite evident success, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson cautioned the industry against self-congratulation. "It was a good exercise, but we should make sure that the 1% of utilities that still aren't Y2K compliant come into compliance soon," Mr. Richardson said in an interview. He observed the exercise from the command center of the Bonneville Power Administration in Vancouver, Wash., which manages power flows from hydroelectric projects in the Pacific Northwest.

The test, coordinated by the North American Electric Reliability Council, began Wednesday and concluded early Thursday morning. A few small glitches were reported, but the biggest problem may have been an attempt by a computer hacker to infiltrate the communications system of the Bonneville Power Administration and post false data.

The hacker "falsely impersonated a dispatcher" but "was detected and stopped," said Mr. Richardson, adding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the impostor, who could face federal charges of attempted sabotage. The energy secretary said he wants security reviews throughout the federal power system to see if other computers are vulnerable to hackers.

Utilities Plan Nationwide Test for Year-2000 Computer Bug (Sept. 2) Two grid operators on the East and West coasts said the most excitement they had Wednesday night was caused by massive lightning storms, which knocked out power to a substation in San Francisco and temporarily disabled the New York Power Pool's backup control center.

Doomsayers frequently identify the nation's electric system as a potential weak point for the year-2000 problem. But utilities, after a slow start, have been spending heavily to bring their computer and communications systems up to snuff. The electric council estimates U.S. utilities' Y2K spending at about $1 billion. The Energy Department on Wednesday released a report naming 24 primarily small utilities and co-ops that have been tardy in reporting their Y2K status, hoping to shame them into compliance.

This week's drill was the second and final coordinated test of the system, following one in April. Utilities primarily tested backup communications systems such as radios and satellite telephones and the effectiveness of disaster contingency plans. They did not tinker with the actual operations of any facilities.

"Everything went beautifully," said Ron Liebo, an official with the electric council, which is a nonprofit industry group that enforces electric reliability standards throughout the U.S.

Mr. Liebo said test results indicated the nation's utilities will keep the electrons flowing even if Y2K glitches cause sporadic telephone-system breakdowns that disrupt data flows needed to keep a precise match between the supply of electricity and consumer demand. That is because utility workers have been drilled to collect the data by hand.

The overnight test spanned the rollover from Sept. 8 to Sept. 9 out of fear of a separate computer coding confusion. The number 9999 sometimes appears in software used by older mainframe computers to mark the end of a string of code. Some experts had feared there might be confusion between the code and the date 9-9-99 that could trip equipment. No problems were reported.~

-- Mumsie (, September 10, 1999


My take on it is that it was more of a test to see if the contingency plan would work rather than if the systems would fail. In other words, will the staff be available during the CDC to provide support. Most people who are aware of Y2K and 9999 know that they are two separate things with the common root of a computer.

Had the NERC asked me (and they didn't) what I would do, I would tell them to take the "500 utilities, electric co-ops, power pools and generators in the U.S., Canada and Mexico" and roll all of the clocks to 11:55PM 12/31/1999 simultaneously, wait for 5 to 6 minutes, and see what happens. Now that would be a test!

-- Uncle Bob (UNCLB0B@Y2KOK.ORG), September 10, 1999.

My understanding is that the test was merely a communications and response test. I don't believe that it tested generation or distribution of power. Important to know that comm works...but just as important to generate and distrubute! I believe that test comes up in another 113 days or so...

-- Mad Monk (, September 10, 1999.

Actually the test has NOTHING to do with the problem to be faced this winter by those areas that used to be served by CONRAIL. Supply of Coal is nearing critical levels in New York State and one power plant has actually run out! Reason...Railroad Computer Glitches...

I guess we didn't need those stinkin' Marshalling Yards to assemble trains by hand...we could ALWAYS trust the computer!

Like the man said "I never thought it would be easier to get COAL in Kazakhstan than in New York State!"

"And the people bowed and prayed, to the Digital god they made..."

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, September 10, 1999.

Sounds like the test was a success, all is well, no problems, everything is under control. They had to get the "doomsayer," part in there just to let people know not to listen to anyone crying wolf. Are we being lied to again?

-- curious one (, September 10, 1999.

"It was a good exercise, but we should make sure that the 1% of utilities that still aren't Y2K compliant come into compliance soon," Mr. Richardson said in an interview.

Should this quote be taken to mean that there is now 99% Y2K compliance? Compare the article Mumsie posted with the article at this link: p_la.shtml

-- Linkmeister (, September 10, 1999.

"Yesterday, Richardson had identified some utilities that had not yet got their Y2K house in order. "With just over 100 days, those that haven't yet stepped up to the plate need to be especially aggressive to prepare for the rollover," he said. Richardson said a dozen utilities were either not ready for the millennium or were on a list compiled by NERC as having Y2K related problems. (They are listed below)

Utility Board of Brownsville, TX

Calenergy Co., Inc. of Omaha, NE

Central Louisana Electric Co.

Cogentrix Energy of Charlotte, NC

Lafayette Utilities of Louisana

City of Lakeland, FL

Milford Operating Co. of Massachusetts

Plains Electric Cooperative of Albuquerque, NM

Platte River Power Authority of Ft. Collins, Co.

City Public Service of San Antonio, TX

Tacoma Power

United American Energy Corp., of Woodcliff Lake, NJ

According to the American Public Power Association and National Rural Cooperastive Association, another 16 municipal utilities and rural cooperatives are behind on Y2K plans. Richardson did not have their names handy. l

-- bardou (, September 10, 1999.

If you haven't followed NERC drills, you would read this article and draw the erroneous conclusion that the grid itself had been tested, not the communications, but the actual distribution grid. This is VERY misleading. It's also VERY frustrating.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, September 11, 1999.

Thank you one and all!

-- Mumsie (, September 11, 1999.

Was this really in the Wall St. Journal? If so, it has to be the most pitifully incomplete and misleading article ever printed in that publication. Yes, there was one statement about the actual power generation systems not being "tinkered with." But the first few lines are so reassuring, who's going to look for buried qualifying statements?

-- Bill Byars (, September 11, 1999.

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