'Blackout Bowl' highlights power grid

Feb. 04, 2013 @ 02:34 PM

Who would have thought that a Super Bowl featuring all-star players, a halftime performance by Beyonce and a game that was decided in the final two minutes would highlight the importance of ... electricians.
The National Football League title game at the Superdome in New Orleans Sunday night will be remembered as much for the more than half-hour delay due to a power outage as the narrow 34-31 victory of the Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers.
Just after the second half of the game began, part of the indoor stadium lost power suddenly. The game was delayed by a power failure for the first time in the 47-year history of the Super Bowl.
As city of High Point Electric Operations Engineer Larry Hopkins sat at home watching the game — and the power went out at the Superdome — his first reaction was “somebody’s having a really bad night.”
The outage serves as a reminder that providing electricity can turn at any time — and without warning — into a fickle practice, even when weather isn’t a factor.
Crews at the Super Bowl, in a pressure-filled situation, did an excellent job restoring power on a large scale in a relatively short period of time, said Hopkins and David Saunders, president of the electrical contractor Beco Inc.
“It could have been hours or longer,” Saunders said.
Saunders, who also watched the Super Bowl on TV, said that it is unusual for power to fail unexpectedly at a major sporting arena.
“I’m little surprised it could be overloaded. But it could have been all the people in town and all the things on. It could have been anything from the power company to a breaker,” Saunders said.
Hopkins said that the Super Bowl outage reflects the importance of regular maintenance of an electrical grid, such as wiring and circuits in a building and the utility lines leading to businesses and residences.
“Things can happen at any time, and that’s why most businesses and utilities do circuit breaker testing and testing of equipment,” Hopkins said.
Saunders said the outage at the country’s most watched sporting event has highlighted the importance of reliable power and the professionals that provide it.
“As long as it’s working,” Saunders said, “people don’t think about it, you know?”

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528

The 34-minute power outage at the Superdome shortly after the start of the second half of the Super Bowl Sunday night appears to have been caused by a malfunction in one of a pair of feeder lines that power the arena from a substation. But officials in New Orleans and with the utility serving the city continued to investigate Monday. Officials did conclude that the halftime performance by singer Beyonce didn’t contribute to the outage.