NEW ORLEANS -- An electrical device that had been installed expressly to prevent a power outage caused the Super Bowl blackout, the stadium’s power company said Friday as it took the blame for the outage that brought the game to a halt for more than a half-hour.
Following the announcement, the manufacturer of the device, known as a relay, released a statement implying that the problem was not with the part but with how it was used.
Officials of Entergy New Orleans, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., said the device, called a relay, had been installed in switching gear to protect the Superdome from a cable failure between the company’s incoming power line and lines that run into the stadium.
The switching gear is housed in a building known as "the vault" near the stadium that receives a line directly from a nearby Entergy power substation. Once the line reaches the vault, it splits into two cables that go into the Superdome.
Company officials said the device performed with no problems during January’s Sugar Bowl and other earlier events, but has been removed and will be replaced. All systems at the Superdome are now working and the dome will 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 power failure at Sunday’s big game cut lights to about half of the stadium for 34 minutes, halting play between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. The FBI had ruled out cyberterrorism as a cause.
Entergy’s announcement came shortly before officials appeared before a committee of the City Council, which is the regulatory body for the company, to answer questions about the outage.
Not long after the power company’s announcement, the manufacturer, Chicago-based S&C Electric Company, released a statement saying that the blackout occurred because the so-called trip setting on the device, "as set by the system operators," was too low to allow the device to handle the electric load that was coming in.
The statement did not name the "system operators," but the equipment was owned and installed by Entergy New Orleans.
"Based on the onsite testing, we have determined that 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 the company.