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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blackout blame game is on

Utility, supplier point fingers for delays in Super Bowl

Posted: 02/9/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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NEW ORLEANS -- The company that supplied electricity to the Super Bowl says the blackout that halted the big game was caused by a device it installed specifically to prevent a power failure.

But the utility stopped short of taking all the blame and said Friday that it was looking into whether the electrical relay at fault had a design flaw or a manufacturing defect.

The 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.

The equipment 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, the city's main electric utility.

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.

Sunday's power failure cut lights to about half of the stadium, halting play between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers and interrupting the nation's most-watched sporting event for 34 minutes.

Not long after the 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.

That announcement sparked a cat-and-mouse game of blame shifting as Entergy countered with a claim that S&C's own tests showed one of two relays at the Superdome failed.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 9, 2013 C6

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