For Immediate Release
For Immediate ReleaseSeptember 7, 1999
Potomac Electric Power Company will activate its new emergency command center and deploy about 325 workers Wednesday in a two-day Year 2000 (Y2K) readiness drill as a rehearsal for the transition from Dec. 31 to January 1, 2000. The drill will test communications monitoring the electrical system, backup communications, contingency plans and emergency response organization for the Y2K transition. The drill will not affect delivery of electricity to any customers.
The drill will span a 21-hour period, beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday and ending at 5 a.m. Thursday in a "real-time" simulation of the midnight rollover as part of a nationwide test of electric utilities. The exercise will be the first since June when Pepco completed Y2K readiness programs for all systems that are critical to the generation and delivery of electric power in the Washington metropolitan area. The Y2K bug refers to the inability of some computers and software programs using two digits for the year to distinguish between 1900 and 2000, possibly causing a malfunction or shutdown.
"All of our systems are Y2K ready and we're confident of their ability to perform in the new millennium," said John M. Derrick, Jr., Pepco's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We also know that being ready means having workable contingency plans and the ability to implement them effectively."
Pepco will test its operations and contingency plans during this week's exercise coordinated by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), an organization that monitors and coordinates North America's interconnected electrical system by setting reliability standards. NERC has been designated by the White House and the Department of Energy to ensure the Y2K readiness of the nation's electrical system.
Pepco will go beyond the requirements of the exercise by activating and fully staffing its emergency command center, control center, power plants and critical electric substations with the same beefed-up work force that will be on duty at midnight Dec. 31. The drill is scheduled to run through midnight into Thursday morning, the ninth day of the ninth month of 1999. Some computer software codes use 9-9-99 to mark the end of a program or file.
Among the drill's major objectives is the ability to operate the electric system with limited voice and data communications between Pepco's control center, power plants and substations, and with neighboring utilities and the regional PJM power pool in Valley Forge, Pa. Pepco employees will staff substations and use back-up radio communications and satellite phones to relay information that is usually transmitted automatically. Computer specialists also will be sent to facilities to be prepared to correct any unanticipated problems. The company will test its contingency plans and activate its new emergency command center for the first time and use its communications systems to inform government agencies, local news media and company personnel.
Power plant and transmission system operators depend on telephone, fiber-optic lines and microwave transmitters to get continuous readouts of each other's power generation levels, demand for electricity and other data to maintain control and reliability of the interconnected utility transmission systems. Communication is critical during peak electric demand times, severe weather or if power plants are disabled.
Point of Contact:Robert A. Dobkin