ARE Y2K RELATED POWER SURGES POSSIBLE??????? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This request is directed to anyone who might have "solid" first hand knowledge as or from someone in the electricity generation and transportation field. I read somewhere that Y2K could potentially generate power surges that could enter your residential power supply and "fry" (overload/damage) important appliances etc. (i.e. well pump, refrig/freezer, heat pump, electronics etc.). In light of this I'm considering shutting off my power prior to the Y2K rollover and for an unknown period after the roll over in order to protect my property.

Questions: Is this potential possible?? What do you know about this condition?? If so, then how early and how long would you recommend shutting down your power?? THANK YOU.

-- Zeck Buckner (, December 19, 1999


Yes, it's possible, and some federal agencies are switching to generators prior to midnight GMT for precisely that reason.

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 19, 1999.


Do you have any links to articles referencing the Feds doing this? Just curious. A few of our clients are asking for backup "documentation" or "supporting evidence" because our company has made this same recommendation.


-- LZach (, December 19, 1999.

Get a surge prorector at any radio shack - well worth the moola..

-- Andy (, December 19, 1999.

I saw in an article that Social Security is doing that. Search the archives.

-- Mara (, December 19, 1999.


Turning From Fixes to Fallback Plans

By Stephen Barr

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 5, 1999; Page A15

With the bulk of their Year 2000 computer fixes made, federal agencies are increasingly focused on developing emergency backup plans that will keep their doors open for business if they encounter any Y2K glitches that interfere with operations.

The importance of contingency planning was underscored Friday, when federal systems began a new fiscal year and four agencies discovered some bugs that were fixed the same day.

The National Science Foundation discovered three minor problems, including one system glitch that prevented the processing of cash advances requested by grantees. The Energy Department's procurement data system temporarily rejected about 30 of 800 transactions, primarily because of a technical error by Energy employees. The Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration also encountered glitches in their financial management systems.

But the true test for agencies will not come until Jan. 1, when computers using two-digit dates need to correctly recognize "00" as 2000, not 1900. To handle potential computer bugs in January, most Cabinet departments and large agencies have devised what they call "Day One" strategies.

At the Social Security Administration, for example, an elaborate Day One plan emphasizes quickly catching any glitches that would stop or slow monthly benefit checks to 44 million Americans. The benefit payments--33 million of which are electronic transfers to banks--are among the most politically sensitive Y2K issues at the White House and in Congress.

Social Security programmers have sifted through 35 million lines of mainframe code and tested data exchanges with the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and banks. When finished, the effort will have cost the agency an estimated $50 million.

Under Social Security's Day One plan, agency computers will shut down earlier than usual on Thursday, Dec. 30. Taking the systems off-line will allow officials to collect all their 1999 computer transactions from nearly 14,000 offices, including those in the distant time zones of Guam and Hawaii.

During that night, Social Security computers will finish batch runs where the data entered during the day is moved into master files. With its 1999 transactions completed and files updated, Social Security offices will be ready to close on Friday, Dec. 31 to observe the New Year's holiday.

Just before midnight Friday, Social Security's main data center in Baltimore will switch to generators powered by jet fuel. The agency has stockpiled sufficient jet fuel to to operate for several days. It does not expect any disruptions to the region's power grid, but as a precaution wants to guard against any electrical surges that could damage its automated equipment.

"We don't know if there [are] going to be power surges. We don't know, at this point, what the public is going to do. Is everybody going to get up and turn everything on to see if it's working? We have some concerns that we could have a lot of pull on electricity, so we don't want to take any chances," Kathy Adams, the Y2K expert at Social Security, said in an interview.

When the power company "lets [the agency] know everything is fine," Social Security will turn off its generators and hook back into regular power lines, Adams said. The power switching will not require the agency to turn off its computers.

On Saturday morning, New Year's Day, groups of programmers will report to work throughout the day to run checks on the computer systems. Social Security's 14,000 facilities include field offices, toll-free telephone call-in centers, appeals offices, regional offices and the Baltimore headquarters.

Social Security managers will report to their offices "at prearranged times with a checklist . . . and make sure the computers are working, that they can turn them on and get connections," Adams said. The managers will report their findings to regional offices, which will forward data to a command center in Baltimore, scheduled to open in late December.

Perhaps more important, Social Security has selected approximately 100 sites to serve as "barometer offices." At these facilities, which include 55 offices that make disability determinations, the agency's technical staff will test software systems by conducting a series of typical transactions, such as processing applications for benefits.

The Baltimore command center will monitor the processing and check to see that the systems are working properly. If glitches are found, "business resumption teams" will be dispatched to make any repairs. The teams will have Saturday night and Sunday to fix problems.

On Jan. 3, Social Security will open for business. If past years are a guide, that Monday will be one of the busiest days of the year. Many Americans choose to retire and apply for Social Security benefits on the first business day of the year, and Social Security hot lines take more calls in the first week than most other weeks of the year.

Social Security will also transmit benefits to about 44 million Americans that day, pumping $33 billion into the economy.

"The staff is focused and working hard," Adams said. "We're ready."

) Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

-- (just@helping.out), December 19, 1999.

Lisa, jh b1 0V 4q

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), December 19, 1999.

I see others have posted links (whew, as I was speaking from memory, no URLs at hand).

Re surge protectors: they're designed for very short duration, very high impedance spikes. And even at that, the MOVs (varistors) will degrade after time, due to the normally occuring spikes (very high voltage, negligible current).

What a MOV-based (i.e., surge-suppressor) will *not* protect you from are direct lightning hits, undervoltage (brownout), *sustained* overvoltage (and I'm talking *far* less than the typical "surge" that the MOVs are designed to sink), and frequency variations (over or under 60Hz).

In other words, unless you've got a full time power conditioner -- i.e., a UPS with a constant duty inverter -- with a *very* tolerant input side (capable of taking in a wide variety of voltages and line frequencies, converting it to regulated, filtered DC, then inverting that *clean* DC to clean *AC*), your best bet is to pull the plug before the risk period begins.

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 20, 1999.

And for those who insist on living dangerously, you might consider keeping a television running, and a light burning, and keeping an eye on them. At the first sign of: flickering, brightening, or dimming of the light, or, and change in the picture size (either larger or smaller), or any strange visual artifacts on the TV (bright or dark bar or bars moving either up or down, strange BZzzzT noises from the speaker, strange sparklies on the screen), HIT THE SWITCH!!!!

And I'm talking about the MAIN switch. You do want to protect your refrigerator, furnace blower/pump, water heater, thermostat and doorbell transformers, and so on, right?

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 20, 1999.

Shouldn't shutdown occur at BOTH GMT and local rollover times? Aren't power industry embeddeds programmed for both times?

-- Shutdown (, December 20, 1999.

Trot on down to a WalMart or whatever and pick up a few APC or TrippLite (they are the two best manufacturers, in order) UPSs. Belkin makes killer surge-supressors as well, so grab one of these for each UPS you grab. I find that APC's Back-UPS Office and Belkin's SurgeMaster II surge supressor/filter make a pretty tough combo.

If you grab an APC Back-UPS Office and a Belkin SurgeMaster II surge supressor (plug the supressor into the wall, the UPS into the supressor, and your goodies in need of protection into the UPS) it'll cost you about $150 per device(s) (up to about 300 watts continuous drain) to protect your stuff from most surges, brownouts, etc. Save your TV or computer or whatever from lightning once and you've made that price back.

I run this combo and I live in Florida. TV, stereo, computers, everything sensitive to powerline transients are hooked up to similar supressor-UPS combinations. I've been up and running during hurricanes, thuderstorms, transformer explosions, you name it. Only thing I've EVER lost to power problems was a cheap modem and that was only due to my not having the phonelines covered. (I have MOVs on my phonelines now.)

BTW, I don't have any financial ties to APC or Belkin. I just like their products and have had excellent success using them. If you have a brand preference, research what they have and get what you need. :-)

O d d O n e, who is relentlessly well protected against lightning, etc.

-- OddOne (, December 20, 1999.


Nevertheless, Witschger said there's a "high probability" of frequency or voltage variations for at least a few hours after midnight, Dec. 31.

These would come as PNM's heaviest consumers, such as manufacturing plants, deal with their own Y2K problems and shut down or reset their systems. Such large changes in power consumption on the grid could cause voltage drops or spikes elsewhere.

The only danger from these fluctuations are to sensitive equipment, including computers and other electronics. Witschger said surge protectors should prevent any damage -- as would simply unplugging the equipment.


-- Linkmeister (, December 20, 1999.

The Crown Vantage plant in Kalamazoo, MI will be going off the grid on 12/31/99.

-- Tim the Y2K nut (, December 20, 1999.

By the way, midnight GMT is 8 pm EST.

-- Amy Leone (, December 20, 1999.

Fed Reserve Generator blurb


-- Jerry B (, December 20, 1999.

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