Electricity providers successful in Y2K communications test, but.......greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 1999
Electricity providers successful in Y2K communications test
One observer noted, however, that the procedure had nothing to do with making power, only with utilities' ability to talk with one another. Mike Cupo, a systems operator for Public Service Electric and Gas Company, uses a special red phone to talk via radio to PSE&G staffers in the field, during a simulated Y2K drill at company headquarters in Newark, N.J. (Mike Derer/Associated Press) By Rich Heidorn Jr.
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Peco Energy and other electricity providers said yesterday that they encountered no serious problems in a nationwide Y2K drill testing their ability to operate without normal phone or data communications.
"Overall, we can say that the drill was successful," the North American Electric Reliability Council, an industry group designated by the federal government to coordinate Year 2000 preparations, said in a statement. About 200 utilities participated.
The electric industry transfers operating data continuously among generating plants, utility control rooms, and regional system operators such as the PJM Interconnection, which coordinates the electric grid for the mid-Atlantic region.
PJM uses the information on power flow, voltage and frequency to balance supply and demand.
The task is akin to keeping a pot of water at a low boil on a gas stove. Pour more water in the pot and you have to turn up the flame. Take some out, and you have to turn it down.
Much of the information used to balance the system is transmitted by phone or dedicated fiber-optic lines. Yesterday morning's drill assumed that the land-based lines had fallen victim to the Year 2000 programming bug, forcing dispatchers to use radios and satellite phones for communication.
Computers affected by the Y2K bug could misread the final two digits in 2000 as 1900, which could cause a malfunction on Jan. 1.
The drill did not affect actual operations. In the second-floor control room at Peco's Market Street headquarters, dispatchers worked as always with their eyes on computer monitors or one of five 4-by-15-foot electronic boards, each a giant wiring diagram representing a portion of the region's electric grid.
Ordinarily, data readings on the dispatchers' computer monitors are updated every few seconds.
But as part of yesterday's drill, dispatcher Walt Gabriel radioed each of Peco's 11 generating stations three times an hour for an update on power output and other operating conditions.
"Basically, we're asking, 'is everything normal?' " said John Baranowski, Peco's manager of systems operations planning.
Using a satellite phone, Peco gave PJM readings on its 500-kilovolt transmission line between the Limerick and Peach Bottom nuclear plants. "It's a way for them to take a snapshot of the system," Baranowski said.
PJM, in turn, reported its readings to operators of adjacent power grids in New York, Western Pennsylvania and Virginia.
One lesson from the drill, Baranowski said, was that it took too long to collect all the data originally envisioned from each of the 11 generating stations. So, after baseline readings were recorded, plant operators reported actual readings only if there had been a change.
In preparations for yesterday's drill, Peco discovered that its satellite phone would not work from the windowless control room. As a result, it will hard-wire the satellite phones to an antenna outside.
Elsewhere, the Electric Reliability Council reported scattered problems with equipment failure and poor reception. Lightning storms temporarily interfered with radio communications in the Midwest.
Loss of data communications is only one of the scenarios that utilities are considering in their Y2K preparations, but the Reliability Council has assured officials that there will be no widespread outages.
Peco says 40 of its 51 "mission critical" systems are Y2K-ready and the remainder will be ready by July 30 or soon after.
Randy Guidry, managing editor of Y2K News Magazine, expected the council's results to be positive.
"They've been planning this drill since the beginning of the year. I would compare it to a student in high school taking a test after he's had three months to make up the questions on the test," Guidry said.
"Today doesn't have anything to do with the ability to produce energy. It has to do with their ability to talk to each other," he said.
The test date, April 9, was chosen because it is the 99th day of 1999, a number experts fear might read as an error message in some computer programs, because some programmers once typed in a series of 9s as placeholders. Another drill is scheduled for the ninth day of September - the ninth month of 1999.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
) 1998 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
-- Gayla Dunbar (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 1999
The >i>generation of power is no longer considered to be in jeopardy (if fuel and the transportation of it is not hindered...). It is thecontrol and distribution management of power, which requires communication of data, that is the priority. So, this test was valid in concept. Hopfully, lessons were learned and problems were discovered now -- instead of later.
-- PNG (email@example.com), April 11, 1999.
It gives one alot of faith in the phone companys, when the power company uses radio to communicate eh? Is Sputnik compliant? (Sats.)
-- SCOTTY (BLehman202@aol.com), April 11, 1999.
"It gives one alot of faith in the phone companys, when the power company uses radio to communicate eh? Is Sputnik compliant? (Sats.)"
I didn't think this was a test of the phone companies but rather of the power companies ability to communicate with each other in the event that normal communications are not working properly.
I hope you are not one of the ones complaining that companies are not doing enough contigency planning.
-- RobbY2K (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 1999.
So is this another example out loud of the interconnectivity of services aligned within the Iron Triangle: Power-Telecommunications-Banking? Perhaps, as it was constructed, it was successful...
Just how dependent on electricity is telecommunications? How long will vital telecommunication stay viable in the event of more than 3-day regional power outtage? (personally I know that most times I still have phone when there is a local power outtage, and understand that means, that the phone company is at that time not effected. When does the phone company become impacted by power loss?) How much does electricity depend on vital, functioning telecommunications? The information is pretty blurry to me still after a year of awareness. Could someone recap what they know?
-- Donna Barthuley (email@example.com), April 11, 1999.
Hi Donna. I could be wrong here (someone please correct me if I am), but I understand that the telco has battery/generator backup power. I guess it is a question of how much fuel they have to run the generators. I believe three days on average was mentioned on this forum??? <:)=
-- Sysman (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 1999.