Power company takes blame for Super Bowl outage
BY KEVIN MCGILL Associated Press
Saturday, February 09, 2013
2/09/13 at 5:33 AM
NEW ORLEANS - The company that supplied electricity to the Super Bowl took the blame Friday for the power outage that brought the big game to a halt, explaining that a device designed specifically to prevent a blackout failed and plunged the game into darkness for more than half an hour.
The device, called a relay, had been installed as part of a project begun in 2011 to upgrade the electrical system serving the Superdome in anticipation of the championship game. It was supposed to guard against problems in the cable that links the power grid with lines that go into the stadium.
"The purpose of it was to provide a newer, more advanced type of protection for the Superdome," Dennis Dawsey, an executive with Entergy Corp., told members of the City Council. Entergy is the parent company of Entergy New Orleans.
Entergy officials said the relay functioned with no problems during January's Sugar Bowl and other earlier events. It has been removed and will be replaced.
All systems at the Superdome are now working, and the stadium was to host a major Mardi Gras event Saturday night, said Doug Thornton, an executive with SMG, the company that manages the stadium for the state.
The relay was installed in a building near the stadium known as "the vault," which receives a line directly from a nearby Entergy substation. Once the line reaches the vault, it splits into two cables that go into the Superdome.
Sunday's power failure cut lights to about half of the stadium for 34 minutes, halting play between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers and interrupting the nation's most-watched sporting event.
Not long after Friday's announcement, the manufacturer of the relay, Chicago-based S&C Electric Co., released a statement saying that the blackout occurred because system operators had put the relay's so-called trip setting too low to allow the device to handle the incoming electric load.
The equipment was owned and installed by Entergy New Orleans.
"If higher settings had been applied, the equipment would not have disconnected the power," said Michael J.S. Edmonds, vice president of strategic solutions for S&C.
Shabab Mehraeen, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Louisiana State University, said relays are common electrical fixtures in businesses and massive facilities such as the Superdome.
"They are designed to keep a problem they sense from becoming something bigger, like a fire or catastrophic event," he said.
The devices vary in size. Mehraeen, who was not familiar with the relay at the Superdome, said he "wouldn't be surprised if it was bigger than a truck."
Original Print Headline: Electric company takes outage blame