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Power company takes blame for Super Bowl outage

  • Fans and members of the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers wait for power to return in the Superdome in a Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, file photo, during an outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

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 to protect the Superdome from problems in the cable that links the company's incoming power line with the lines that run into the stadium.

Officials from Entergy New Orleans 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 dome 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 device 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.

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 device's so-called trip setting too low to allow the device to handle the incoming electric load.

The statement did not name the operators, but the equipment was owned and installed by Entergy New Orleans, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.

"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.

In a follow-up statement, Entergy said that tests conducted by S&C and Entergy on the two relays at the Superdome showed that one worked as expected, the other did not.

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