It was a dark and stormy night somewhere on the globe, but here in the
northeast US it was a wonderful fall morning, and the Glistening Volts
Road Show was infiltrating a power industry workshop on
the Year 2000 problem. Trying their best (and failing miserably)
to look like electrical engineers, entering in ones and twos, picking
up food,drink and name tags along the way, they finally clustered in a
small prickly lump near the front and settled down to watch the show.
And quite a show it turned out to be...
This workshop was meant to allow working groups of its member
companies to discuss Y2K re-mediation programs with
each other .. better avoid pitfalls and share shortcuts and so on.
Another bit of context:the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
had passed a law requiring power utilities to exhibit readiness
for the Y2K roll over by March 1999.
Looking at the numbers: Of all the 'mission critical'
systems discussed by PJM members at the workshop about 50%
were in or had completed the testing phase.
(roughly the same as NERC reported nationwide). Some
systems were not even out of inventory.. much less
assessment, remediation or testing.
In the mid Atlantic states of the US the company responsible for the
electrical energy market and transmission control is
PJM Interconnection LLC. More than five hundred generators tie into
the PJM power pool providing 56 gigawatts of capacity over 8000 miles
of transmission grid covering an area of 50000 sq miles supplying
power to 23 million consumers, yada,yada,yada. Membership in PJM is
open to all
wholesale electric market participants (they get to appoint someone
to an advisory committee to the PJM governing Board,and are also
contractually obligated to PJM ....)
The Circus Begins
Kicking off was a discussion of Senate Bill 2392, purporting
to protect companies making Y2K disclosures against legal liability
Looked like a real hard sell to this audience, clearly
most of them felt that the bill provided no real protection.
Next was a NERC (N. American Elec. Reliability Council) presentation
(Recommended Y2K readiness date Jun 30 1999;Nukes expected to be up;
Universal participation must be enforced(!); 2 drills April and sep 9 1999).
The meaty part
PJM members Y2K programs: This was a mixed
bag. There were very few Y2K project heads present. One was in Chile
doing Y2K fixes, one had a bug, one had sumpn else.
Three or four of the participants had proper presentations; the rest
(mostly standing in for absent project heads) sullenly muttered
rote phrases intended to soothe and soporify, paying lip service to the
Mar 1999 deadline. Of the better presentations some points
stood out a)Few problems found in substations and relays b)Cost
of upgrades and fixes is being shared among several participants,
and data is being shared about production rollouts c)at
least one member plans fixes through replacement -- 2 major
software installs thru 2nd quarter 99.. a very aggressive
schedule ...d)Contingency plans are just now being drawn up
e)always test, trust no vendors f)deadly embrace of telco,
power,gas, coal, rail, water... not being addressed nearly fast enough
but at least three of the presenters mentioned coordination
plans with other utilities and their consumers as well.
g)PJM may operate in
non-economic net-zero mode over the Y2K changeover
with primary reserves on synchronized equipment
We beat a cautious retreat, muttering things like 'reclose with
pilot back' and 'spinning reserve objective' to throw the PJM
hounds off our trail. It seems that
power companies are in better shape than last year when they
couldn't even spell 'embedded systems', or six months ago
when they could spell it but not count them. Contingency planning
seems sketchy and concentrated solely on the Y2K rollover (do they
think that the millennial crazies will wait for the millennium?).
Distribution seems in better shape than feared but telecom,
security,and facility support are much worse than hoped. Co-operation
among regional electric utilities is increasing but not much
evidence of co-operation between different kinds of utilities
(cf. deadly embrace)
And quite a show it turned out to be...
This workshop was meant to allow working groups of its member companies to discuss Y2K re-mediation programs with each other .. better avoid pitfalls and share shortcuts and so on.
Another bit of context:the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had passed a law requiring power utilities to exhibit readiness for the Y2K roll over by March 1999.
Looking at the numbers: Of all the 'mission critical' systems discussed by PJM members at the workshop about 50% were in or had completed the testing phase. (roughly the same as NERC reported nationwide). Some systems were not even out of inventory.. much less assessment, remediation or testing.
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