It’s already Y2K for Reno-based Sierra Pacific | NevadaAppeal.com

It’s already Y2K for Reno-based Sierra Pacific

Associated Press

CARSON CITY – Y2K has struck at Reno-based Sierra Pacific Power Co. and a company spokesman says it was without disaster.

At the end of June, all of the utility’s embedded computer systems that help provide electric, natural gas and water service in northern Nevada were rolled ahead a year to mid-2000 and left there.

The operations part of the utility company has been running a year ahead ever since.

”This is not new. Others have done it and it has been very successful,” company spokesman Bob Sagan said Wednesday. ”We’re very confident that we won’t have any problems at New Year’s.”

The computers that were rolled ahead are called embedded systems, which perform control, protection and monitoring tasks for machinery, processes, equipment and communications.

The concern was whether those systems would recognize the date change at the end of the year correctly as 2000 or incorrectly as 1900. Many older computers only used two digits to track years and couldn’t handle the change to the next century. That shortcoming has been labeled the Y2K bug.

Despite the early changeover of some systems, customers won’t be getting utility bills dated a year ahead. Sagan said computers related to billing aren’t part of the utility’s control systems and weren’t rolled ahead – but were updated for year 2000 compliance and tested.

Sierra Pacific has spent about $5 million addressing Year 2000 concerns since 1996, when a Y2K team was formed, he added.

The company’s website, http://www.sierrapacific.com, has an area devoted to Y2K readiness.