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Super Bowl Blackout Traced to Relay Switch, Entergy Says

Super Bowl Power Failure Caused by Faulty Relay, Entergy Says
A general view of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after a sudden power outage that lasted 34 minutes during Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Photographer: Al Bello/Getty Images

Entergy Corp., owner of the utility that supplies power to New Orleans, said an electrical relay that it installed to regulate power flow at the Superdome caused the blackout during the Super Bowl.

S&C Electric Co., the equipment’s manufacturer, said the device cut power to the stadium because the electric load current exceeded the trip setting that had been selected.

“Based on the on-site testing, we have determined that if higher settings had been applied, the equipment would not have disconnected the power,” Michael Edmonds, a vice president with Chicago-based S&C Electric, said in an e-mail.

The relay was part of the fuses and circuit breakers known as switchgear that Entergy installed to protect stadium equipment from damage by a power failure, Mike Burns, a spokesman for New Orleans-based Entergy said in telephone interview.

During the Feb. 3 National Football League championship game, the device triggered when it shouldn’t have, blacking out part of the enclosed stadium. The relay has been removed and a replacement is being evaluated.

“While some further analysis remains, we believe we have identified and remedied the cause of the power outage and regret the interruption that occurred during what was a showcase event for the city and state,” Charles Rice, chief executive officer of Entergy New Orleans, said in a statement today.

Cables Installed

About half of the lights at the facility, which held 71,024 fans, went dark early in the third quarter of the game, the third most-watched U.S. television program. The failure halted play for 34 minutes.

The NFL declined to comment as it awaits a report from an independent review of the blackout, Greg Aiello, a league spokesman, said today in an e-mail.

Entergy ruled out a cyberattack for the power failure on Feb. 5, saying there was no Internet or remote computer access to the device.

Entergy installed new feeder cables, the switchgear and replaced transformers as it bolstered its network to the Superdome. The work began in 2011 and was completed Dec. 21, Burns said.

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