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Year 2000 Date Issue at BC Hydro


eople involved in the Information Technology (IT) industry have been preparing for the rollover to the Year 2000 for some time now. Based on previous system designs and programming techniques, some applications will not function correctly and will even fail when the Year 2000 is reached. In fact, these problems will manifest themselves earlier in systems which forecast into the future.

The problem stems from the early IT industry's desire to capitalize on efficiency. When 80-column punch cards were in use, the century was assumed to be "19". Storing the year portion of dates as two digits, rather than four, was a means of saving two characters on a card, on screens, and in storage. This made sense because computing resources were more constrained and expensive than they are today. It is also common practice for people to write dates such as "DD/MM/YY". This practice continued, even after resource costs came down, until recently when system developers incorporated solutions to the Year 2000 into their designs. These two-digit years can be found in places such as

  • Record storage (databases, files, and tables)
  • Programs (on-line, batch, and common data modules)
  • Output layouts (reports, screens, and pre-printed forms)
  • Interfaces (to internal systems or from external applications)
  • Shared procedures/system utilities (date cards, CLISTs, sort parameters, etc.)

All hardware and software needs to be reviewed and potential problems identified so that changes can be planned and implemented in an effective and efficient manner. Being proactive on this issue will stop a lot of the problems, along with the costs and frustrations associated with them.

What is BC Hydro doing to address the Year 2000 problem?

BC Hydro is well under way in addressing Year 2000 computer-related issues. We began investigating the effect of Year 2000 on our systems three years ago. By the end of 1998 we expect to have examined all of our computer systems and to have completed the remedial work needed. We've recognized the importance of doing this early to produce the best possible solutions and to help us secure the human and computing resources required for such a large task.

The Year 2000 issue is a serious issue shared by all companies worldwide. We expect to spend a significant amount on our Year 2000 Project from now to 2000.

In addressing the Year 2000 issue, we've recognized that it is not enough for Hydro to fix its systems affected by the Year 2000 problem; our suppliers must also fix theirs so that we at Hydro can continue to provide our customers with the same high-quality, trouble-free service to our customers to 2000 and beyond. That's why we're working with our business partners on the Year 2000 problem, and we are committed to keeping our customers informed on our progress.

Many questions have been raised about the Year 2000. See the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

If you have any further, specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by sending a note to:

Seiki Harada

BC Hydro Year 2000 Project Coordinator