Y2K success depends on power companies

Published 1:37 am Wednesday, December 29, 1999

By By Sherry Digmon
Recently, a customer concerned about possible Y2K problems asked Clay Campbell, "Is the power going to be on in the year 2000."
Campbell, general manager of Escambia River Electric Cooperative (EREC) replied, "If you pay your bill, your power is going to be on."
With the new year only days away, officials with the area's power companies – EREC, Southern Pine Electric Cooperative and Alabama Power – expect to provide power New Year's Eve and on into the next millennium.
This week, employees are checking and double-checking their Y2K plans.
It does, after all, come down to power. Every business needs electricity to function. Individuals can live without electricity, but not comfortably for any length of time.
Most people and businesses in this area will be looking to Alabama Power Company.
APCO declared its readiness in the middle of the summer, with the exception of one turbine at a nuclear plant. It was brought into compliance in October.
In fact, APCO is running ahead of schedule.
Of course, whether the hour is approaching a new millennium or it's just another day, no power company can guarantee uninterrupted power all the time. There are too many variables n an animal in a substation, bad weather, a driver hitting a power pole.
In fact, Fogarty said in his 25-plus years with APCO, he doesn't remember a New Year's Eve that was without a problem, usually one caused by someone hitting a pole.
A rumor has been circulating that Alabama Power will shut down one hour before midnight Friday night and will stay off until one hour after midnight.
It is, Fogarty said, just a rumor.
Not all APCO employees will be working New Year's Eve, but many will.
The same is true for Southern Pine. When General Manager Jim Byrd says, "We're going to be standing by," he means it literally.
All employees are required to report to work at 10:30 p.m. New Year's Eve at each of the district offices located in Atmore, Evergreen and Frisco City.
While Southern Pine's almost 20,000 customers will be looking to the co-op for power, Southern Pine will be looking to its supplier. The co-op itself does not generate power.
Southern Pine started working on Y2K in October 1998. Each department head was assigned to verify that every piece of equipment with a computer chip would function properly.
Some devices on the power line have computer chips that are not date sensitive. Employees checked those too.
The management and staff are conducting in-house reviews this week.
But come Friday night, they'll all be on hand even though they're not expecting any problems.
Brent Stubstad, Y2K coordinator with Escambia River Electric Cooperative in Jay, Fla., said preparations have been ongoing in management for five years and in the field and offices for more than three years.
EREC officials have solicited input from everyone connected with their business – outside industries, the power supplier, vendors.
On New Year's Eve, more than 15 office personnel and 30 to 35 outside personnel will report to work.
Extra personnel will be on hand in the customer response center in case of questions or problems.
EREC serves about 9,000 customers.

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