President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion "Sector Benchmarks" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

In case you haven't seen it yet, the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion has posted a document called Sector Benchmarks on its website. This is the document that inspired yesterday's Report Used To Stem Y2K Fears Associated Press piece. Remember, this is supposed to make us feel better by pointing out how screwy technology is on a good day, and to keep us all from assuming that problems on Jan.1 are Y2K related.

Aw, what the heck...


Sector Benchmarks

December 13, 1999


(The following are benchmarks for some key sectors compiled by the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. The Y2K Council will update this document as more information becomes available.)



Banks and ATMs

According to second quarter 1999 reporting, there were 10,350 banks and savings institutions in the United States. In 1998, these institutions served consumers at 83,963 bank branches. (Source: American Bankers Association)

As of Fiscal Year 1999, there were 227,000 ATMs in the U.S. (Source: American Bankers Association)

Under normal circumstances, 1 to 2 percent of all ATMs are "down" because of mechanical breakdowns or because they simply run out of cash. (Source: EFT Report: "Business Strategies for the Debit, POS, EBT and ATM Marketplaces" 9/8/99)

About 8 to 10 percent of the time, customers experience failure on their first attempt at an ATM. This is typically because of user error: entering the wrong PIN, trying to withdraw unavailable funds, or accessing the wrong account. (Source: EFT Report: "Business Strategies for the Debit, POS, EBT and ATM Marketplaces" 9/8/99)

Credit Transactions

About 10 percent of all credit transactions fail routinely. Reasons for failure include: equipment break downs, consumers over credit limits, or user error. (Source: Star Systems, Inc.)



Electric Power

There are 3,108 electric power companies that supply services to American consumers (not including Canadian and Mexican companies that are part of the interconnected power grid):

-- 9 Federal utilities (including 4 DOE Power Marketing Adminstrations and TVA),

-- 239 Investor-owned utilities,

-- 858 Electric cooperatives, and

-- 2,102 Municipal electric utilities.

Each year, customers nationally in the U.S. experience about 13 hours of power outages, not including the effects of major storms.

The average length (nationally) of a power outage caused by a major storm is 72 hours.

In 1998, a year of particularly destructive weather (hurricanes, ice storms, etc.), the average national reliability for the year was 99.18 percent.

Major system failures do not always affect customers. The interconnectedness of the grid allows system operators the flexibility, in some cases, to switch instantly to alternate sources of power.

On average, winter is a time of low electric demand, so demand-related stresses on system reliability  such as experienced during the hottest parts of the summer  seldom occur during the winter holidays.

Causes of localized outages during the holiday season typically include weather-related incidents such as tree branches or ice falling on power lines, and other physical problems such as traffic accidents and vandalism.

Examples of electric transmission outages that have occurred during the Christmas/New Year holiday season:

-- A severe ice storm in January 1998 knocked out power for 1.5 million customers in Canada and New England.

-- Freezing rain and sleet in early January 1997 caused outages for 95,000 customers in the Carolinas.

-- On Christmas Day in 1996, 75,000 customers in British Columbia lost power when a connector failed.

-- Ice, sleet and snow in Virginia and West Virginia disrupted power to 122,000 customers in early January 1994.

(Sources: Edison Electric Institute and North American Electric Reliability Council)



Power Plant Outages

A Forced Outage is defined as an unplanned component failure or other condition that requires the unit to be removed from service.

The Forced Outage Rate is the percentage of time that capacity is lost due to forced outage.

The Equivalent Forced Outage Rate (EFOR) reflects both forced outages and forced de-rating that reduces available capacity. (For example, EFOR would count the loss of 10 percent of a plant's capacity for 10 hours in a forced de-rating as "equivalent" to a forced outage of 1 hour.)

For 1994 to 1998, the EFOR data shows:

-- Forced outages are not uncommon; they range from about 5 percent EFOR for Hydro units to 13 percent EFOR for nuclear units.

-- Forced outages are routinely accommodated without loss of service to electric customers.

Summary data on 1994-1998 average EFOR

(Note that coal, nuclear and hydro provide roughly 50 percent, 20 percent, and 10 percent of generation, respectively. Natural gas provides most of the rest.)

Plant Type # units (in 1998) EFOR (avg. over 1994-1998)
Coal 856 7.06%
Oil 132 12.37%
Gas 382 9.85%
Nuclear 110 13.05%
Hydro 747 5.02%

[Sources: Generation Availability Data System (GADS), Generating Availability Report (GAR)]

Nuclear Power

In the last five years, during the interval December 28 - January 3:

-- The average number of event reports (nuclear power plant and materials): 22.

-- The average number of nuclear power plant event reports: 17

-- The average number of emergency declarations: 1 "Unusual Event" (the lowest of four possible emergency classifications)

Based on information dating back to 1985, there have been nine weather-related events that resulted in notifications to NRC in the December 28 - January 3 period.

-- 3 involved inoperable sirens (all caused by severe cold/icing)

-- 2 involved loss of offsite power (causes: 1 high winds and 1 lightning strike)

-- 2 involved low water levels at the intake - possible loss of heat sink (causes: 1 extreme tide and 1 high winds affecting lake level)

-- 2 involved restricted plant access (causes: 1 mudslide and 1 icy roads)

(Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)


Residences -- including multi-family -- heating with home heating oil or heavy fuel oil: 9.3 million in 1997. (Source: Department of Energy  Energy Information Agency)

In 1997, 5,000 establishments were engaged in retail supply of heating oil to customers and there were nearly 6,000 liquid propane dealers. (Source: Census Bureau)

Industry sources estimate that "automatic deliveries" (contracts where dealers take into account usage patterns and degree days and automatically re-supply the customer) account for about 80 percent of the market with "will calls" making up the remaining 20 percent. (Source: American Petroleum Institute)

Industry sources estimate that most "will call" customers refill before reaching the last quarter of their stocks. "Will call" customers who request supplies on short notice know they face some competition for a limited amount of extra trucks and drivers. (Source: American Petroleum Institute)


There are approximately 180,000 gas stations in the United States.

Depending on the company branded outlets, the number of gasoline stations normally closed on New Year's Day ranges from zero to 15 percent.

Unplanned closings on New Year's Day are typically weather related.

Stations that request to be closed in advance are those not typically busy on New Year's Day because they are not located on a major travel route.

Temporary supply outages at individual stations range from 1 to 15 percent, with a very short duration time for replenishment (approximately one hour).

Point of Sale operation (pay at the pump) is approximately 99 percent reliable on a daily basis, with easily implemented manual back-up systems.

(Sources: American Petroleum Institute and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)

Natural Gas

There are about 55 million residential natural gas customers (metered) nationwide. (Source: American Gas Association)

Natural gas is supplied by 1,400 LDCs, Municipals and Combination Utilities, as well as by hundreds of marketers that supply natural gas. (Source: American Gas Association)

Loss of service because of weather is not typical. Disruptions are typically caused by a third party (e.g., construction crew accidentally breaks into a natural gas line). (Source: American Gas Association)

On a typical winter day, 1 percent of compressors, .08 percent of measurement facilities, and 5 percent of communications/data devices may encounter problems. None of these malfunctions are sufficiently significant to impact customer service or natural gas delivery. (Source: Interstate Natural Gas Association of America)



Roads and Highways

On a normal day, less than 1 percent of traffic signals turn to flashing. On a bad day, the number of flashing signals may increase to 1 percent.

The rate of fatalities during the New Year's holiday period is less than half the rate during the rest of the year (4.6 fatalities per 100 million miles of long-distance automobile travel compared with 9.3 fatalities at other times).

The percentage of alcohol-related fatalities during the New Year's holiday period decreased from 67 percent in 1997 to 51 percent in 1998.

In 1997, during the New Year's holiday period, 192 people were killed. Of these, 129 were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

(Source: Department of Transportation)

More than 196 million registered vehicles and 176 million licensed drivers are on record in the United States. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)

There are about 2.6 million licensed commercial truck drivers in the United States. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)



Number of systems operating nationwide, including Dial-A-Ride, ferryboats and public vanpools: Approximately 6,000. (Source: Department of Transportation)

Large system operations are typically on a significantly reduced schedule during the Christmas and New Year's periods, such as a holiday or Sunday schedule. Some exceptions may apply. (Source: Department of Transportation)

Rail rapid transit systems carry almost two billion passengers annually. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)

Ferry boats, most prominently in New York City and Seattle, carry more than 270 million passenger miles annually. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)



Average number of commercial flights during the last five three-day New Year's holidays: 84,560.

Average number of commercial flights on the last five New Year's Days: 25,726.

Average number of commercial flights delayed 15 minutes or more on the last five New Year's Days: 424.

Percentage of New Year's Day commercial flights delayed: 1.6 percent.

Average number of all flights, including commercial, military and general aviation, delayed on the last five New Year's Days: 430.

Average number of delays of all flights due to weather: 390, or 91 percent.

For the entire year 1997, the number of flights delayed 15 minutes or more: approximately 245,000, a decrease of 9.6 percent from 1996.

Percentage of 1997 delays due to weather: 68 percent or 16.9 percent less than in 1996.

(Source: Department of Transportation)


For the last six New Year's Days, there have been a total of 26 reported accidents on the railroads, an average of 4.33 per year. (Source: Department of Transportation)

For the entire year 1998, there was an average of 7.05 accidents per day. (Source: Department of Transportation)

Amtrak carries about 21 million intercity passengers annually. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)

The railroad industry transported more than $32 billion in freight in 1997, and amassed more than 1.36 trillion revenue ton-miles. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)


Pipelines carry more hazardous materials in the United States than any other form of transportation. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)

Annually, almost 600 billion ton-miles are carried in 177,000 miles of pipe, and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas are delivered through 1.2 million miles of pipe. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)

Total pipeline mileage: 2,182,000 miles.

Total hazardous liquid shipped annually: 592.9 billion ton-miles (1996).

Total number of pipeline operators: 2,424.

Average notices of failures for the last three years:

Dec. 31 - 5

Jan. 01 - 3

Jan. 02 - 6

Jan. 03 - 2

Jan. 04 - 2

Average number of reportable incidents for the last three years.

  Liquid Pipeline Transmission Pipeline Distribution Pipeline
Dec. 31 2 0 0
Jan. 1 1 0 1
Jan. 2 4 2 3
Jan. 3 3 1 1
Jan. 4 1 0 0

(Source: Department of Transportation)


U.S. Coast Guard Operations

Average daily number of search-and-rescue requests in last five Decembers: 21.

Average daily number of search-and-rescue requests in last five Januarys: 36.

Average daily imports of crude oil in the last five Januarys: 260,000 barrels.

Average daily number of pollution cases responded to by the Coast Guard in the 20-day period surrounding New Year's: 25.

Average daily number of marine casualty cases responded to by the Coast Guard in the 20-day period surrounding New Year's: 19.

(Source: Department of Transportation)




Gaps in service can be experienced when low batteries, power outages, problems with satellites, microwave systems, towers, sun spots, terrain issues or weather affect radios, portables, cell phones and related communications equipment.

Mechanical breakdowns or problems with EMS vehicles and related responding units (like extrication units, rescue, air medical, etc.) are regular occurrences.

Air transport, both rotor wing and fixed wing, are very dependent on weather conditions any time of the year.

In areas of the country with extreme weather, certain equipment can be rendered inoperable by the extremely cold temperatures (e.g., Alaska).

In most natural disasters, communications are the first thing to fail and radio compatibility among multiple provider agencies often becomes a problem.

Wireless communications can be and often are compromised in any major event or major emergency because of over use of the system by the public and media.

EMS Staffing is higher during holidays and other major events, but typically is severely strained when a second event occurs during the period (such as a tornado or other weather-related event).

Increased prevalence of a particular disease in a community (such as influenza) can reduce the availability of EMS crews.

(Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency)


A failure at a 9-1-1 Center is not an unusual occurrence, but typically does not reduce service levels.

The average Emergency Communications District can experience a disruption weekly. "Manual switchover" to non-computer operations is dependent on working phone lines to allow calls for emergency assistance. The typical reasons for failures:

-- A problem at the dispatching site. A 9-1-1 switch could fail within a dispatch center. The more complicated the dispatching system, the greater the exposure.

-- The failure of the public switch telephone network. It is not unusual for this to occur on a weekly basis. It can happen as a result of erroneous programming.

-- Lightning strikes are listed as primary causes for Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) equipment damage and failure. These weekly incidents occur when underground or overhead telecommunication lines are damaged in an ice storm or auto accident.

-- Telephone lines are frequently jammed by call overload. Mother's Day, New Year's Day, radio station give-aways, and the first day of major concert and event ticket sales contribute to the overloads.

(Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency)



Extreme weather and long-term, widespread power outages can force delays or a reduced level of service. This is not typical. However, it does happen occasionally.

With 38,000 locations nationwide, a few post offices, at any given time, are without communications or energy. This can force a reduction in service or, less commonly, temporary closure of one or more post offices.

Severe hurricanes, floods, fires and winter storms are the most common challenges to postal operations. Weather problems can cause delays in air and surface transportation that will, in turn, delay mail.

(Source: United States Postal Service)

-- (, December 14, 1999


Your first link is dead? Is there an update or did they remove this report?


-- Paul L. Hepperla (, December 14, 1999.

What a useless piece of tripe. Almost all of these failures are the result of bad weather, user error or outside factors that have absolutely nothing to do with a computer failure. And the purpose of including drunk driving statistic is...????

My personal favorite example:

"About 8 to 10 percent of the time, customers experience failure on their first attempt at an ATM. This is typically because of user error: entering the wrong PIN, trying to withdraw unavailable funds, or accessing the wrong account"

This is a stellar example of a computer working CORRECTLY.

God, they are grasping at straws...


-- Roland (, December 14, 1999.

Paul, try this site...

-- Roland (, December 15, 1999.

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