Power issues to transmitter blamed for Super Bowl signal interru - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Power issues to transmitter blamed for Super Bowl signal interruptions

(KFVS) -

A problem with the electric power to a transmitter seems to be the reason for blackouts that viewers throughout the Heartland experienced during the Super Bowl Sunday night.

Viewers reported seeing a black screen as well as frozen frames and audio issues.

In a press release on Monday, Feb. 2, WPSD said their investigation found that Jackson Purchase Energy discovered a bad "stinger on a capacitor bank" that affected power to 260 customers. This "stinger" goes from a power line to the capacitor, and the capacitor helps stabilize voltage along the circuit.

Jackson Purchase said the "stinger" was broken when the repair crew arrived. This caused shorting along the power circuit. For homeowners, this was seen in flickering lights, for the high voltage transmitter, it was severe enough to trip safety measures.

WPSD said they believe this bad "stinger" on the Jackson Purchase grid is what caused some dips and spikes in their electrical service. These dips and spikes were so quick and short that they say they did not trip their automatic transfer to generator power, but were severe enough for the high voltage transmitter to shut itself down in safe mode.

According to WPSD, this safe mode is what happened on Sunday evening, Feb. 1, during the third quarter of the Super Bowl. They say this caused an interruption of the game for all viewers, except those who are Comcast customers in Paducah, Ky. WPSD said they feed Comcast via a fiber connection that is not impacted by outages at the transmitter site in Ballard County, Ky.

The station said two engineers responded to the interruption. The chief engineer made a half-hour drive to the transmitter site and a second engineer began the remote restart process for the transmitter. The high voltage transmitter resumed after going through its normal start-up cycle, which lasts 12 to 15 minutes.

According to WPSD, the game broadcast continued, but was interrupted again later when the transmitter again faulted into a safe mode. They say both of these outages happened before the chief engineer arrived at the transmitter site.

Again, the second engineer began the restart process, and again the high voltage transmitter went through its normal 12 to 15 minute cycle to restart.

Once in the transmitter building, they say the chief engineer found the transmitter running normally. He watched it and went through the transmitter set up protocols. WPSD said it was during this time that a third fault happened, and the engineer was able to see the high voltage fault.

They say he also saw a three-phase power outage with another piece of equipment. They say this was his first clue that the failure was not in their equipment, but tied to the electrical service they receive from Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation.

The engineer called the energy company and reported the problem. WPSD said he was told that another customer had already called in the problem.

WPSD said they have a backup emergency generator at the transmitter site. The chief engineer started the generator and prepared to switch off the JPEC power grid as the game was in the final two minutes, and if the transfer did not work, the broadcast could be lost for another 15 minutes. The game ended under JPEC power.

According to WPSD, a dispatcher from Jackson Purchase called the chief engineer around 9:45 p.m. on Sunday to explain the trouble they were having and how it was impacting customers, including WPSD. Knowing the problem was not fixed and the game was over, the chief engineer threw the transfer switch taking WPSD off the JPEC power grid and putting them on emergency generator service.

WPSD said they regret the interruption of the Super Bowl and apologize to the viewers for the trouble.

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