Tri-State power plant stages Y2K simulation |

Tri-State power plant stages Y2K simulation

Lee Harstad

In an activity meant to simulate the first minute of 2000, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association tested systems for Y2K compliance.

Tri-State operates the Craig Station electrical power plant south of Craig.

Sept. 9, 1999 (9/9/99), should have accurately portrayed any events that may take place on 1/1/00 because of similar types of changes with computer systems. The 9/9/99 date provided an opportunity for the industry to practice for the transition to the year 2000. Computer programmers once used the sequence of “9” to signify an end. Computer systems could have read the four nines “9999” as the end of a data file, causing the system to close.

According to the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), the drill simulated different Y2K contingencies such as the loss of energy management systems and data communications, the use of backup control centers, possible communications failures and the need for backup voice systems by field and power plants. It also simulated losses of customer load, generation, transmission and transmission reservation, scheduling systems and computer systems.

Tri-State employees kept a watchful eye on their systems, mainly those dealing with communications, and as the clock struck midnight, the only problems were nerves as the minutes clicked and all systems remained normal.

Initial reports from across the United States and Canada indicated about 15,000 people participated in the drill at 400 to 500 utility companies.

Tri-State Y2K Team Leader Sherryl Caikowski said there were about 100 extra employees on hand between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. for the dry-run drill.

According to Tri-State Communications Manager Jim Van Someren, the plan went off without a hitch.

“It went very, very well. We didn’t notice a thing on any system. The activity was borderline slightly boring, which is good,” Van Someren said.

Tri-State Support Services Superintendent Dave Longwell and Caikowski agreed that problems were non-existent and have confidence in Tri-State’s readiness for any possible Y2K problems.

Van Someren believes this dry run proves Tri-State is Y2K compliant and it should be an indication of future events.

“We confirmed what we thought and already knew,” Van Someren said. “This necessary exercise was uneventful. We expect the same performance on Dec. 31.”

NERC confirmed the exercise to be problem-free and stated at no time during the drill were any electric customers affected and all systems worked as planned. They also commented that all drill objectives were met.

The Y2K bug deals with systems that are time- and date-sensitive. Any component to a system that is unable to recognize the date could cause an error and shut down the system. If the component was a vital part of the system, the entire plant could shut down.

Officials at Tri-State do not foresee this happening and are ready for the new millennium.

Tri-State will use lessons learned from this drill to continue improving contingency plans, training and other preparations for the transition to the new century.