Friday, February 08, 2013
Relay Blamed for SB Blackout, But Why No Backup?
CNN.com broke the news this morning that Entergy New Orleans Inc. had traced the cause of Sunday’s Super Bowl power outage to an electrical relay device and that a replacement for the faulty equipment is being evaluated.|
It is not evident how much such a replacement will cost, but at least one engineer is amazed that the NFL hadn’t invested in a backup system prior to its biggest game of the year. James Hamilton, who’s responsible for keeping Amazon’s data centers up and running, told wired.com that for $10 million, the league could have purchased a pair of bus-sized diesel generators and hooked them up to an uninterruptable power supply system. Wired then contacted a Louisiana-based heavy equipment rental company and found that a week’s rental on a suitable backup package could be had for a mere $2.5 million.
It is also unclear — once sensors detected an electrical abnormality and tripped a Superdome circuit breaker, dousing roughly half of the stadium’s lights — whether a switch to backup would have circumvented any blackout. The Superdome’s gas-charged lights take 15 minutes to restart all by themselves. Sunday’s game was delayed 34 minutes during the third quarter.
What seems obvious to Hamilton, at least, is that for a relatively small investment (in light of the NFL’s $9.5 billion in annual revenue), the league, the city and the stadium could have easily ducked such a glaring black eye. “I would expect that next year’s event will have backup power,” he told wired.com earlier this week. “The economics of it are just too obvious.”