Posted on February 8, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Friday, Feb 8 at 12:21 AM
NEW ORLEANS- It was a shock to millions watching the Super Bowl when half the Superdome went dark for more than 30 minutes.
Now, electrical experts are trying to uncover what went wrong. Preliminary results show there were no electrical problems inside the Dome. Instead, sources close to the investigation tell Eyewitness News that the culprit lies in an Entergy vault outside the Superdome.
Experts say a faulty piece of equipment, called a switchgear, was part of an expensive electrical upgrade last month. The part was manufactured by a Chicago company called S&C. Experts said a part inside the switchgear, called a protective relay, malfunctioned, sensing a problem when there was none, and prompted one of two main lines serving the Superdome to shut down.
The news is sparking mixed emotions for New Orleanians.
“They should have dealt with people that were local who understand the system of the Superdome much better, they should have they should have dealt with people who are more familiar with the super dome,” said Germaine Terrell, of New Orleans.
“Almost everything mechanical can go wrong at any time. You can do a million tests on everything, but not everything is foolproof,” said Jason Meyers, of New Orleans.
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell heads the city council's utilities committee. She said she does not know details about the cause, and declined to speak on camera. Hedge-Morrell is calling an emergency meeting Friday morning to drill Entergy and Superdome officials about why the lights went out.
For now, it appears, the problem was not inside the Dome, according to our sources.
Officials believe it won't affect bids for future Super Bowls.
“It's a fixable item, and they've all admitted that, even if it's human error, it's fixable, so that doesn't really affect our ability to bid and get it back for New Orleans,” said Jay Cicero, executive director of the Super Bowl Host Committee and president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
Entergy officials would say only that the investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, S&C did not return our calls for comment.
There are still questions about whether Entergy or S&C installed the faulty part and whether it was properly tested.
Dome and Entergy officials are in the process of hiring a third party to investigate the outage.