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Excel snafu costs firm $24m

Some cleric, some error

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A simple spreadsheet error cost a firm a whopping US$24m.

The mistake led to TransAlta, a big Canadian power generator, buying more US power transmission hedging contracts in May at higher prices than it should have.

In a conference call, chief executive Steve Snyder said the snafu was "literally a cut-and-paste error in an Excel spreadsheet that we did not detect when we did our final sorting and ranking bids prior to
submission," Reuters reports.

This looks like a career limiting move by the person who made the cock-up and the people who failed to spot it. Snyder said the company would "deal with the individuals in the appropriate fashion if there is anything found. At the end of the day it's a simple clerical error."

Some cleric, some error.

TransAlta announced the mistake on June 3, and it was widely reported in Canada at the time, but not in the tech pubs. Excel Johnnies, watch your step!

Some of you may be irresistibly drawn to next month's European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (EUSPRIG) conference at Trinity College in Dublin. Details here. ®

TransAlta press release

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