Southern Company testing raises year 2000 confidence

At several Southern Company power plants, the year 2000 has already arrived and plant operations are continuing normally. As part of its year 2000 testing, Southern Company has moved forward the computer clocks on generating plant controls to test their rollover from 1999 to 2000. The testing is being done to validate the inventory, assessment, remediation work and initial testing that has already been accomplished at the power plants by Southern Company’s Millennium Project, which is addressing the year 2000 computer challenge across the company.

“Our comprehensive program includes setting clocks forward and allowing the devices to roll through key transition dates,” said Paul DeNicola, President and CEO of Southern Company Services and the year 2000 steering committee chair for Southern Company. “We currently have some systems operating in the year 2000, and we have not experienced problems that would interrupt service.”

Southern Company has 275 generating units located at 67 plant sites across its service territory in the Southeast. The Millennium Project team selected approximately 10 percent of these units, which represent the major control systems in service, to be tested by rolling computer clocks forward. The tests are being performed during regularly scheduled maintenance periods, so that the generating units will be ready to produce electricity during the summer load requirements.

Of the 25 generating units in Southern Company’s year 2000 test group, 20 units are already operating in the year 2000. This includes large units at two plants operated by Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power: Unit 1 of Plant Wansley, with a generating capacity of 865 megawatts, and Unit 4 of Plant Bowen, which has a generating capacity of 880 megawatts.

Once power is generated, Southern Company delivers power to its customers through more than 26,000 miles of transmission and distribution (T&D) lines. To test these lines and other T&D assets, the company is integrating devices that have already completed extensive year 2000 testing procedures.

“The T&D tests that we performed have provided valuable information,” said Robin Hurst, vice president of power delivery at Alabama Power, another Southern Company subsidiary. “Based on current tests, we are confident in our ability to continue our reliable delivery of power to customers through the transition to the year 2000 and beyond.”

In addition to preparing its own assets for the year 2000, Southern Company is participating with the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and other utilities to maintain the stability of the nation’s integrated electric network, the power grid.

“Southern Company is on target to beat the June 30, 1999, readiness date as established by NERC,” said Mike McClure, the company’s Millennium Project Executive. “We are working with critical suppliers to determine their readiness to supply products and services during the year 2000 transition. Southern Company is also building on existing contingency plans to anticipate and respond to potential year 2000 challenges.”

Southern Company began addressing the year 2000 challenge in 1996 and the company is investing approximately $90 million during the four years of its Millennium Project. Southern Company’s commitment to preparing for the year 2000 begins with senior management and includes the teamwork of hundreds of business experts throughout the company. More information on Southern Company and its Millennium Project can be found on the company’s web site,

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), is an international energy company with $35 billion in assets through regional utilities and operations around the world. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the world’s largest independent power producers. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Through its Southern Energy Inc. subsidiary, Southern Company supplies electricity in 10 countries on four continents. It also provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services and Southern LINC wireless telecommunications