Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Official Reiterates Concerns Some Utilities Behind on Y2K

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Official Reiterates Concerns Some Utilities Behind on Y2K

Article excerpt

U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson has reiterated worries that some electric utilities are falling behind an industry timetable to fix the computer software problem known as the "Y2K bug."

Citing the results of a survey released Monday by a trade group, Richardson said Monday he is generally pleased with the work power providers are doing to prevent blackouts come Jan. 1, 2000. The trade group, the North American Electric Reliability Council, issued a forecast that the date change would have a "minimal impact" on electric systems operations in North America.

But various utilities expect to miss the industry's self-imposed June 30 deadline for fixing potential problems in their critical operating systems. Richardson called this "a matter of significant concern," and added that "in the Y2K readiness league, our goal must be to have a 1.000 batting average." Richardson threatened to cite specific firms unless they demonstrate progress. "I applaud industry's intention to apply peer pressure to advance the programs of those who may be falling behind," Richardson said at a press conference in Washington. "I am fully prepared to add my own voice to these efforts if necessary." The "Y2K problem" refers to the trouble that many computers will have keeping track of the date change at the start of next year. To avoid blackouts, utilities nationwide are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to review and upgrade their systems. Also, because of the importance of the electric system to the rest of the economy, the utility trade group set several deadlines meant to guide timetables for Y2K remediation work. Most importantly, the group recommended that by June 30 its members complete reviews of the systems most critical to the distribution of electricity. As previously reported, timetables at several local utilities lag that date. …

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