U.S. senators, in too much of a hurry to get to their summer vacations, recently canceled an important hearing on utility companies and Y2K problems.
A press release on August 2 stated, “U.S. Senators Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), committee Vice-Chair, today announced that a hearing scheduled for this week to explore the readiness of gas and electric utilities has been canceled. In its place, statements from Senators and witness testimony will be posted on the Y2K Committee web site on Wednesday, August 4.”
The announcement came as a surprise to many because significant questions about the accuracy of reports from the nation’s power plants have been raised. The hearing would have provided an opportunity to ask important questions about the accuracy of Y2K reports from power plants.
The prepared statements are now posted on the Internet, but there is not provision to ask questions.
WorldNetDaily first exposed concerns about attempts to keep information from the public back in April. A power company whistle blower provided copies of memos and documents to show there was an organized plan by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) to keep negative information on Y2K problems from government regulators.
When the original article appeared, Don Meyers, spokesman for the Senate Y2K Special Committee, called WorldNetDaily and asked for copies of the evidence. The information was provided without identification of the whistle blower.
Meyers expressed concern about the problem and promised that when officials from NERC came before the committee to testify they would be asked to explain the cover up.
Michehl R. Gent, president of NERC, was scheduled to testify last Thursday. It was expected that he would be confronted with the issue of keeping vital information from the Department of Energy.
On Wednesday, Gent presented the final quarterly report from NERC to the Department of Energy. It was a glowing report that claimed virtually all electric power plants would be operating without problems on Jan. 1, 1999. WorldNetDaily provided contradictory information found in the report but not spoken of at the press event when it was presented.
If the Senate held their hearing as scheduled the report would have provided significant areas for questions to be asked. That report now stands on its own with Gent’s printed testimony and with no plans to seek answers to the troubling questions.
A follow up WorldNetDaily story appeared recently when a FEMA official commented about the possibility that NERC was engaged in a cover up. That article prompted Meyers to call WorldNetDaily and ask why he was mentioned in the article. Meyers was reminded of his request for the information and his promise to see that questions were asked in a hearing.
“Oh right, I remember that. Yes, I’m going to have to go back and take a look at those again,” Meyers responded. “We came to some resolution on that. It did not involve actually using them during a hearing, and I want to take a look at those again and see what exactly they were and how we handled it,” he said, promising to call back with an answer.
Numerous attempts to reach Meyers over the next two days resulted in getting a voice mail response about what happened.
“The hearing this week was transformed into what we’re calling a virtual hearing due to scheduling conflicts the senators had, given it’s the last week before recess. There are a million things that congressmen try to get done before they head back to their home states for the summer. So that’s the reason for that,” he explained.
“With regard to the memo that was leaked from NERC, we actually did take a look at that some time ago. While initially thinking this would be something that would come up in a hearing some time in the future, it was decided that this memo was in no way nefarious and we’re pleased with some explanations we got from NERC officials that this was just a memo regarding a test, not regarding what information they should divulge to the American public and the press about their levels of readiness,” Meyers stated on the voice mail.
A review of the evidence does not support Meyer’s claim. The memo and the comments made by the NERC official were directed towards ways to claim power plants are Y2K ready when they are not.
“All identified (Y2K) exceptions will be held in strict confidence and will not be reported to DOE (Department of Energy) or the public. The exceptions will be reviewed by NERC Y2K project staff for reasonableness and reliability impact on operations into the Year 2000,” the memo said in part.
NERC spokesman Gene Gorzelnik verified to WorldNetDaily in a recorded interview that the memo was genuine and then he preceded to justify the action.
“When we were working on the January report (required each quarter detailing Y2K progress), one of the things that we realized was that there were a number of utilities that weren’t going to be making the June 30 target date we had established (to be Y2K ready),” Gorzelnik explained.
NERC decided to let power companies list themselves as Y2K ready in time for the June 30 deadline, even though they were not. They justified this action by permitting the utilities involved to list certain Y2K “exceptions” on a separate report which was not made public or given to the Department of Energy.
That false information is the basis for the glowing quarterly report NERC gave to the Department of Energy last Wednesday. Senators could have asked specific questions about the so-called “exceptions” and whether the report would be so glowing if the information had been more accurately reported.
Those questions remain unasked because the hearing was suddenly canceled so senators could get to their vacations.
WorldNetDaily recently published a list of 35 nuclear power reactors that did not make the June 30 deadline. Somehow that list was shortened to only 22 in the “virtual” testimony presented by the Nuclear Energy Institute to the Senate Special Committee on Y2K. The committee did issue a press release critical of the 22 nuclear plants and questioned whether they would be permitted to remain on line.
Gorzelnik explained to WorldNetDaily that the information was being withheld because it is complicated and difficult to understand. “We felt that to put out raw data, it could very easily be misunderstood,” he stated.
The members of the Senate Committee could not be reached to determine if they felt the information was too difficult to understand, not worth understanding, or if they would just rather go on vacation.