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1998-05-19 08:49:27


Southern Company: 18 Months of Testing



The Southern Company supplies electricity to the Southeast U.S. It is considered very advanced in its y2k repairs compared to other firms.

They claim to have begun testing in February, 1998. They say that testing will be completed in the summer of 1999.

This raises a red flag. Every other company you have heard about, or heard from in writing, says that it will begin testing in January, 1999. But if Southern Company expects testing to take 18 months, then January, 1999, is way too late.

All this good news assumes that the Southern Company isn't lying through its teeth. The story also reports: "Southern Co. has budgeted $85.6 million toward its Y2K efforts, with plans to spend $60 million in 1998. Last year, Southern spent $8 million on Y2K."

If the company spent $8 million out of $85 in 1997, and began testing in 1998, then there is a question that comes to mind. If awareness, inventory, and code repair costs under 10% of the project's money, then testing must cost over 90%. This is the highest figure I have ever seen.

Could it be that they are testing partial repairs? I think so. The budget indicates that this is the case. But then what about testing the final repair? Will the tested pieces fit? If they don't, the region will be in deep trouble.

This appeared in the ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE (May 18).

* * * * * * *

Testing on the 250 systems that control power plants began in February and should be completed by the summer of 1999, said Mike McClure, system millennium executive for Southern Co. Testing will be conducted during routine shutdowns of power plants for maintenance.

"You won't see blackouts or brown-outs," said McClure, a 30-year veteran of Southern Co. The most likely problem would be that some plants would run less efficiently than normal. More probable, McClure said, is that Southern Co. will be in a position to provide power to utilities that are crippled by Y2K problems.

"If Southern is already into the testing phase, they are ahead of most companies, and that's a good sign," said Larry Bracken, an attorney with Hunton & Williams who focuses on Y2K issues.


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