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Russia Power To Be Manual on Y2K

The Associated Press
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1999

MOSCOW - Russia's electricity monopoly will shift its huge grid to manual control on Dec. 31 to ensure it avoids "millennium bug" outages, system officials said Wednesday.

Russia is considered one of the countries most vulnerable to potential problems when the changeover from 1999 to 2000 is expected to effect many computers whose chronometers cannot distinguish between the years 2000 and 1900.

Although Russia has proportionately fewer computers than more developed countries, it also apparently has done less to prepare them for the new year than have Western countries.

Managers at United Energy Systems, the country's electricity monopoly, said at a news conference that they are 95 percent ready for the date flip-over. The company has checked about 50,000 computer systems which guide the flow of power across the country.

The company allotted less money than engineers asked for in 1998 in order to fix the problem, officials said. Planners wanted $28 million but UES allotted only $8 million.

UES deputy chairman Alexander Remezov said the company made up for the shortfall with a plan to use manual controls.

"We can't give a 100-percent guarantee that not one of these many systems will fail," said Remezov. He said generating plants will have a week of coal or fuel oil reserves on hand at the New Year.

Earlier, authorities have said that nuclear power plants are safe from potential problems computer problems.

There has been wide concern about electricity and other infrastructure failures in Russia with the year change, prompting the U.S. Embassy to tell non-essential American personnel to spend the year-end holidays outside the country.

But Russians themselves have shown relatively little concern. Service interruptions almost matching worst-case scenarios for Jan. 1 strike Russia frequently for other reasons.

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***

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