• For those with wings fly to your dreams

    Super Bowl Blackout, my thoughts

    That's the nite the lites went out in...wait wrong state
    Watching the game yesterday with a buddy who's also in the industry, we couldn't help but be a bit amazed and ashamed at that 34 minute blackout during the Super Bowl.  It just always astounds me that the wealthiest country in the world has  infrastructure that we do.It was unbelievable  though it did kinda help the local team (49ers) though not quite enough.

    Despite the internet, it wasn't the fact that the Superdome wasn't "ready for this jelly", Beyonce's booty did not knock out the power. The halftime show was ran on 100% generated power, not supplied by the venue's main grid at all they say. Though the ensuing memes of that possibility were hilarious. In fact the whole outage thing was hilariously teased throughout the twittersphere. My personal favourite: @PBS :This might be a good time think about alternative programming. #SuperBowlBlackOut #WeHaveDowntonPBS

    This morning wanting to learn more about the technical issue, I read this on the New York Times site: 
    Michael Burns, a spokesman for Entergy Services, the local utility, said that his company’s distribution and transmission feeders that serve the Superdome were never interrupted. Power did not go out elsewhere in the city.
    Hmm... now that's interesting but understandable. That part of the country (South, Southeast) has random blackouts, it's an unfortunate part of life that we accept.  During hurricane season, tornado season, really hot weather, freezing or snowy weather, all of which are fairly regular occurrences in the South.  I was thinking that this was actually one of the better days for power stability. 

    Entergy and SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, issued a joint statement explaining the power loss:
    “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. There were no additional issues detected. Entergy and SMG will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality.”

    Sample Panel Schedule source

    Looking forward to finding out if the breaker opened for a good reason or if there were some error within that. If it was for a valid reason than it was just one of those inconvenient things that must happen. Though I still have to wonder how the circuits are set up at the Superdome that a single breaker tripping causes a blackout over such a large area of the stadium.  Isn't that weird? Wouldn't you think that'd be more than 1 breaker, a true or simulated arcing event causing whole panel tripping maybe?  Since I've never been involved in wiring anything nearly that big or seen a schedule I'm just swagging. It In fact I'd love to see the schedule for the Superdome. A schedule is kinda like a home's labels on the main panel (circuit box/break box) except being for a larger facility it's larger.

    So to be fair, stadium lights take forever to warm up, they have a crazy long strike time.  The other thing being that start-up procedures are long and involved for safety's sake. If the superdome would have caught on fire, even a small fire we would all be talking way worse than about an outage. I'm just saying.

    EDIT [2.5.13] Let me just add that I'm just a engineering grad (09) who anyone who's read my blog or twitter knows I have limited actual engineering experience, (thanks recession) but  does have almost 4 years in the construction industry. So if you have any insight, please feel free to comment as such - JDKS



    About me

    I'm a 20-something Southern girl living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've been working in the wild and wacky world of non-profit green construction in one way or the other for over 3 years. I'm also the owner of Oakland's own Engineered Cupcake.