Utilities Say Leap Year Rollover Watch a Mini-Y2K

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Monday February 28 11:46 AM ET Utilities Say Leap Year Rollover Watch a Mini-Y2K By Patrick Connole

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North American electric utilities said Monday they will monitor crucial computer systems for any snags resulting from the leap year rollover Tuesday, Feb. 29, but consider the event only a mini version of the much-hyped Y2K transition.

Most utilities plan to have additional staff on stand-by as a precaution in case computers do not read Feb. 29 as Tuesday's date. A quirk in the way computers are programmed has provoked fears that this leap year may be a problem.

``We will have an additional 1,000 people on stand-by, but no, we don't anticipate any problems,'' said Irene Cimino, a spokeswoman for Virginia Power, a unit of Dominion Resources Inc. (NYSE:D - news).

Utilities across the country prepared heavily for the New Year's rollover, which resulted in only minor problems and no reports of blackout or brownout power losses.

Industry officials note that most utilities fixed their possible leap year problems during their Y2K preparations.

As happened over New Year's, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) will coordinate monitoring operations from the continent's 3,100 power companies via contacts with 23 regional security offices from Monday through Wednesday.

Gerry Cauley, a spokesman for NERC, said the organization's Princeton, New Jersey, headquarters will be staffed to handle the continent's leap-year rollover, starting with the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) transition at 7 p.m. EST.

``It will then be similar to Dec. 31 ... we will then look at midnight EST (after the GMT rollover) throughout North America,'' Cauley said.

NERC will maintain its vigil through Wednesday, March 1, ensuring the ``roll in and roll out'' go smoothly, he said.

Utilities were not told to add staffing for leap year or ratchet power generation higher as many plants did over Y2K.

Steven Brash, a spokesman for Cinergy Corp. (NYSE:CIN - news) in Cincinnati, Ohio, said the company ``has no plans for extra staffing,'' but would pay special attention to the GMT and EST rollovers.

Southern Co. (NYSE:SO - news), one of the largest power providers in the country, said it viewed this week's events much as it did the pre-Y2K monitoring done in 1999.

``We are cautious and prepared, and will have slightly higher levels of staffing,'' said Mike Tyndall, spokesman for the Atlanta-based utility.

Southern serves more than 3 million consumers and has 280 generating units in its southeastern U.S. base, he said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 28, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ