Energy lacking at Superdome


Many of you know from last year's Super Bowl that I love my football -- even when the Green Bay Packers aren't playing (at least in this Super Bowl you could safely bet that a coach with Wisconsin ties would win; the Harbaugh boys' parents live in Mequon, Wisconsin). The intensity and excitement of the game, the family huddled, cheering around the TV -- and you never know what surprises live television will bring.

Superdome Surge

This year, when the lights went out at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans and the nation watched in real time while the NFL scrambled for answers, theories were lobbied around the Lundin household. Was it Entergy? Was it a transformer? Was it wires, fuses, circuit breakers? Was it sabotage? Was it a phone-charging fiasco caused by former New York Giants quarterback and now CBS Sports sportscaster Phil Simms?

After the press box, which had lost all power, was up and running again, fellow sportscaster Jim Nantz razzed Simms, "Next time you decide to plug in your phone charger, give us some warning."

Beyoncé was definitely a powerful force as the half-time show, but could she be to blame for the outage?

According to my 10-year-old son Apollo, that's a possibility. Too many special effects contributed to the outage and probably knocked out a transformer, he concluded. I thought that was a pretty astute observation. Even more so when former Miami Dolphins quarterback and now CBS sportscaster Dan Marino concurred during the extended half-time broadcast.

The Power of Social Media

A check of Entergy New Orleans' outage reporting website showed no outages at the stadium or in the surrounding areas. However, utilizing its social media presence, Entergy tweeted twice, making clear that they were not responsible for the outage, but that they were part of the effort to resolve the issue.

The first tweet came from @EntergyNOLA (Entergy New Orleans):

"Power issue at the Super Dome appears to be in (sic) the customer's side. Entergy is providing power to the Dome."

It was retweeted 4286 times (and was going up quickly as I wrote this at 8:35 pm CST).

The second tweet from @Entergy went to the utility's 5210 followers:

"We are working with Superdome officials to troubleshoot the issue. Power is being provided to the building."

A Sense of Déjà Vu

The San Francisco 49ers team is no stranger to a little lights out. In 2011, during Monday Night Football, the lights went out -- twice -- in a game at Candlestick Park against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Caused by a blown transformer, the first outage was 20 minutes; the second, 15 minutes.

In this outage, PG&E tweeted, "We're aware of the outage and are working as quickly as possible to restore."

49ers team spokesperson Bob Lange succinctly summed up the situation to the San Jose Mercury News, "A transformer blew, the city engineers responded and they had to switch the power over to an auxiliary source."

And, in 2012, more than 1400 Southern California Edison customers (1455 to be exact) in Torrance, California lost power for a good three hours, during a televised broadcast of the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.

Lack of Energy

Ultimately, this year's Super Bowl power failure was attributed to a "power surge" and dubbed "just a longer half-time" by the CBS Sports crew. But former Denver Broncos tight end and now CBS sportscaster Shannon Sharpe summed up the situation best. The surge in the building was the Baltimore Ravens. Ultimately, after a 34 minute outage and approximately 54 minutes off the field, the surge changed sides -- and the zingers flew.

"Since the power outage there's no energy comin' from the Ravens," Nantz quipped.

But there was some energy on the field. During the blackout mêlée, auxiliary power kept some of the lights on and the field dimly lit. Some players even said they thought play could have resumed if it weren't for the lack of power to critical headsets.

"All of our distribution and transmission feeds going into the Superdome were operating as expected," Philip Allison, a spokesperson for Entergy New Orleans said, according to ESPN.  Allison added that the outage appeared to originate in a failure of equipment maintained by stadium staff.

"At all times, Entergy's distribution and transmission feeders were serving the Mercedes-Benz Superdome," according to an Entergy statement issued late last night. "We continue working with Superdome personnel to address any outstanding."

An NFL investigation is ongoing.

Spoiler Alert: If you recorded the game and haven't watched it yet, don't read this. The Ravens won 34 to 31.

-- Barb

Update: Entergy and SMG, the management company of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, issued a joint statement the morning of February 4th regarding the power loss.

It read, in part: "Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system.  Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue.

Backup generators kicked in immediately as designed. Entergy and SMG subsequently coordinated start up procedures, ensuring that full power was safely restored to the Superdome.

The fault-sensing equipment activated where the Superdome equipment intersects with Entergy's feed into the facility."

No additional issues were detected, and an Entergy/SMG investigation of the root cause is ongoing.