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Summary and Comments

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Category: 

Power_Grid

Date: 

1998-04-08 18:23:25

Subject: 

Ontario Hydro Admits the Problem: The Grid's Participants

  Link:

http://www.hydro.on.ca/OHNewSit.NSF/Public/PofCyear2000

Comment: 

Ontario Hydro has posted a public relations piece on its Web site. It is filled with assurances. It tells us that the company began working on y2k in mid-1996 (as did Texas Utilities). The programmers are now engaged in actual code remediation.

This paragraph caught my attention:

"Hydro is also working with a number of neighbouring utilities and power pools to ensure that Ontario Hydro is not adversely affected by activities within other jurisdictions or by interrelationships with other utilities. Preliminary findings indicate that each member utility / power pool feels relatively confident that it has its own internal compliance program well underway, and is starting to address the potential impact of its neighbours. It is our intention to work closely with other industry groups in order to ensure that the reliable delivery of our product is not impacted by others 'on the grid.'"

This is an admission that there are interconnectivity problems that threaten firms. That is to say, the grid is a system. The problem is that y2k is a systemic problem. If one firm can damage another, they must all be compliant in such a way that one firm's repair does not "impact" any other. But no agency is in charge of coordination for the grid -- or any other system (e.g., banking).

As always, suppliers are a problem. They cannot be controlled. Thus, everyone is "working" with his suppiers. What this means is anybody's guess. (And suppliers have suppliers, who have suppliers. But they're all working with each other, except when they aren't.)

Some of this press release sounds as though it was produced by a macro on a word processor: just stick in key words and out comes another assuring paragraph. You'll recognize this when you see it.

* * * * * * *

Hydro started its Y2K compliance activities in mid-1996 with a preliminary assessment of our computer systems to ensure that they would not be adversely affected by the transition past the year 2000. This assessment concluded that, while significant effort would be required, the risk of any adverse effect was a manageable one. Conversions, testing and deployment work for critical systems is taking place now, and we expect to complete the bulk of this work in 1998. . . .

To date, all business units have completed their analysis and have begun actual system conversion. Conversion, testing and deployment work for critical systems is taking place now, and we expect to complete the bulk of this work in 1998 to ensure that our generation, transmission, distribution and control facilities are equipped to meet the year 2000 threat.

Hydro is also working with a number of neighbouring utilities and power pools to ensure that Ontario Hydro is not adversely affected by activities within other jurisdictions or by interrelationships with other utilities. Preliminary findings indicate that each member utility / power pool feels relatively confident that it has its own internal compliance program well underway, and is starting to address the potential impact of its neighbours. It is our intention to work closely with other industry groups in order to ensure that the reliable delivery of our product is not impacted by others "on the grid."

Our relationship with our suppliers is another important area that must be well managed to ensure our customers are not adversely affected by transition past the year 2000. We have engaged our suppliers whenever possible in efforts to ensure that the products and services Hydro acquires in the future will all be Year 2000 compliant, and in examining and upgrading the products Hydro has acquired in the past. We plan to work very closely with our suppliers of fuels and other critical products and services so that the risk of failure is minimized from the beginning of the supply chain..

We also plan to minimize the risk of failure throughout the supply chain including delivery of our product to the end customer. Ontario Hydro plans to communicate with its customers and other stakeholders on how it is addressing the issue, as well as create customer awareness of the issue so that they, in turn, can address Year 2000-related problems in their homes and businesses.

Although we are addressing all areas of potential failure in the provision of electricity to our customers, we recognize that unplanned situations beyond our control can still occur. Thus, we are developing comprehensive business contingency plans to mitigate this eventuality.

Hydro is confident that the appropriate steps are being taken to minimize any effects on our customers and stakeholders. The reliability of the electricity system is extremely important to Ontario Hydro.

Link: 

http://www.hydro.on.ca/OHNewSit.NSF/Public/PofCyear2000

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