Lights expected to stay on

By Clyde Pack
Staff Writer

Experts have warned for years that many computers originally programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a year will fail on January 1, 2000, when machines will assume it is 1900.

Some computers can be reprogrammed through tedious rewriting of their software code, but many devices, such as the utility industry's "frequency relays" and other monitoring equipment, have embedded microchips that must be physically replaced.

And there lies the source of concern that many will be literally in the dark on New Year's Day.

But David Estep, manager of financing and administration for Big Sandy RECC in Paintsville, said Thursday that he does not foresee any problems.

"We get our power from Eastern Kentucky Power in Winchester," Estep said. "They've been working on this problem for a couple of years and assure us they are, or will be, Y2K compliant. And, as long as the power gets to us, our customers will receive the same service as they have always had."

In May, an Eastern Kentucky utility server, American Electric Power (AEP), which is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and serves 3 million customers in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, issued information stating that the company is progressing in a comprehensive effort to be ready for Y2K.

The statement defined "being ready" as meaning "if, under normal use and service, the system (1) records, stores, processes and presents calendar dates falling on or after January 1, 2000, in the same manner, and with the same functionality, data integrity and performance, as the system records, stores, processes and presents calendar dates on or before December 31, 1999; or (2) otherwise operates without any material adverse decrease in functionality, data integrity or performance as a result of processing calendar dates falling on or after January 1, 2000."

Then, on July 1, the company issued the following statement: "Systems critical for keeping the lights on at the homes and businesses of American Electric Power's customers have been tested and are Y2K ready for the new year."