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1997-11-01 15:14:12


Open Letter to the Power Industry



Rick Cowles has the only independent Web site I know about dealing with the electrical power industry. His October posting made it clear that we are facing a very dangerous threat, yet the industry is doing very little to solve it.

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The "party line" of the industry remains: everything's OK, this isn't a big deal, we'll get it fixed. However, everyone I've personally interviewed in the industry who is knowledgable about Y2K, and who will speak off the record, is scared to death. . . . Why? Do they know something that the rest of the world does not?

Itís time for the non-IT sector of the electric utility business to get out of denial, and start understanding and accepting the scope of this problem. The Year 2000 issue within the electric utility industry is so much deeper than financial control, customer service, billing, and load forcasting systems. This problem has the potential to cut to the core of your business: generating and distributing power. If your company can not generate power, it canít generate revenue, either. If your company can not distribute the electricity it buys or generates, it canít distribute quarterly dividends. Here's what I'm trying to say: if your business systems are functional, but your transmission and generation assets are not, who cares? Business systems are useless if your company can't generate and distribute its product. Your company must start looking at its embedded controls and infrastructure now. You can't wait until December, 1999 to begin this task. Heck, you can't wait until December, 1997.

There's even more to the Y2K issue than pipes, wires, automated controls, and business systems! The regulators that control your ability to generate and distribute electricity are becoming keenly interested in how your company is addressing the Year 2000 topic. Your regulators (particularly nuclear) possess the power of life and death over your operations. Yes, the administrative details of Y2K, such as certifying your company's compliance to industry regulators, are like thousands of fleas nipping at your skin. Individually they won't kill you, but collectively they'll eventually suck the lifeblood out of your organization.


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