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New Orleans tries to shine a light on Superdome blackout

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 10:00am

Authorities in New Orleans are still in the dark over the cause of the partial blackout in the Superdome on Sunday that had Super Bowl players pausing for a stretch on the field.

The Big Easy's city council hopes power company Entergy will be able to enlighten them on the source of the outage in an emergency council meeting Friday.

The 35-minute electrical snafu set off a storm of social media amusement by viewers and inspired advertising tweets with blackout twists.

Carmaker Audi took a swipe at its competitor, tweeting that it was sending "LED lights" over to the dome, which is officially named the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

But for the picturesque Super Bowl host city -- perpetually concerned with its reputation, especially since Hurricane Katrina -- the power failure broadcast to the world was a huge embarrassment.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised that night there would be answers soon.

The council member who heads New Orleans' utility committee, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, hopes some will be forthcoming at the meeting this week.

"I am extremely disappointed in the power failure at the Superdome during last night's Super Bowl game," she said in a statement Monday.

The NFL has said the incident will not likely diminish the city's chances of hosting another big game.

The general consensus on social media appeared to be that Beyonce's high-wattage half-time performance was mostly likely to blame for the blackout.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell countered the virtual chatter, saying, "There is no indication at all that this was caused by the halftime show, absolutely none."

Entergy Corp. said it was working with SMG, the company that manages the dome, to determine the cause of the disruption. The outage occurred shortly after the second half of the game kicked off.

Monitoring equipment detected an abnormal electrical load and partially cut power to the Superdome "to isolate the issue," Entergy said. Backup generators came on line, then Entergy and SMG worked to restore power.

The company completed some upgrades to electrical delivery systems to the facility on December 21, but that may have had nothing to do with Sunday night's problem, Entergy has said. The dome hosted a few major events after that work was carried out, including the Sugar Bowl.

The blackout triggered calls by industry leaders for the building of a nationwide smart power grid, which could reroute electricity seamlessly in such cases.

This would avoid such public displays of momentary weaknesses in the system, said Andres Carvallo, former chief technology officer at Austin Energy, where he says he built the nation's first smart grid.

On Monday, CBS aired video shot from inside a stadium control room as the outage occurred.

"All right, we lost lights," says a man as the room darkened.

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CNN's Tom Watkins, Tina Burnside, Ben Brumfield and Chelsea Carter contributed to this report
 

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