View Point
Friday, December 3, 1999

By T. Michael May

Keeping lights on
during Y2K

YOU'VE all seen the concerns expressed in the media about the potential impact of the Year 2000 (Y2K) on computers. I just wanted to reassure you that, at Hawaiian Electric Co., we've been on top of the Y2K issue for quite some time.

I'm pleased to say that the electric systems for Heco and our neighbor island subsidiaries, Hawaii Electric Light Company (Helco) and Maui Electric Company (Meco), are now "Y2K ready."

That means we've completed the Y2K work in our power plants and on the transmission and distribution facilities that deliver power to our customers.

The main systems requiring Y2K work were the computers that control the generating units in our plants and the central Energy Management System (EMS) computer that efficiently matches the supply of electricity to the demand.

The EMS also allows for remote control of circuit breakers and other equipment at substations throughout the island.

As I said, these systems are now "Y2K ready." Our readiness also extends to administrative areas such as our billing system, which has been reviewed and tested for Y2K problems.

Of course, regardless of Y2K, no utility can ever guarantee 100 percent reliability; outages do happen. That's why being "Y2K ready" also means having contingency plans in place in the unlikely event of a problem.

Our plans include:

Bullet The ability to control and dispatch power manually, if necessary.
Bullet Having additional power plant operators, trouble crews, system operations computer technicians, customer service, corporate communications and other personnel on duty around the clock during the New Year's weekend.
Bullet Increased inventories for fuel and other supplies needed for power generation.

In addition, Heco has a private microwave/fiber system for voice and data communications between the power plants and the central operations office, in addition to a company-dedicated mobile radio system. In other words, we don't need to rely on phone lines to run our communications.

AS further reassurance, in September, our employees successfully executed a comprehensive Y2K drill to respond to simulated problem situations, and fine-tune key operations, communications and other emergency procedures, in preparation for the New Year's weekend.

I don't mean to overwhelm you with operational details about our Y2K efforts, but considering the critical role electricity plays in our daily personal and business lives, I thought it was worth sharing this information.

At Hawaiian Electric, we take very seriously our responsibility to provide reliable service to our customers, and our employees have worked extremely hard to make sure any Y2K issues have been identified and addressed.

T. Michael May is president
and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc.

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