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Why Was Cowboys Stadium Exempt From Blackouts?

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News
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The outside of Cowboys Stadium on February 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (credit: Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

The outside of Cowboys Stadium on February 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (credit: Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
Jack moved to Dallas after three years at WESH-TV, the NBC affil...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As brief power outages rolled across the state on Wednesday, certain places were intended to be exempt from a temporary loss of electricity. That included hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations, police stations, other emergency response facilities… and Cowboys Stadium?

When officials with Oncor said that the Arlington site of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV would not be a part of the rolling outages, many residents became furious. But this was not entirely a choice made by the local utility company.

With thousands of reporters huddled in North Texas hotels and thousands of rabid football fans attending the NFL Experience at the Dallas Convention Center, and two football teams preparing to do battle on the field of Cowboys Stadium this Sunday, the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee had a big request to make. “It is vitally important we don’t have blackouts,” said committee vice president Tony Fay.

Fay asked the City of Dallas, the City of Fort Worth and the City of Arlington to ensure that rolling blackouts did not prevent planned events from happening at Super Bowl venues. That news really steamed up some homeowners who were left without power for hours. “We’re not prioritizing,” said frustrated Plano resident Allen Hooser. “Hospitals and the grocery store, which is out. But for a PR stunt, where you can go throw a football, you have power and heat.”

“Not because of any preferential treatment. Not because we’re trying to protect VIPs or celebrities,” Fay explained. “It is a public safety issue.” According to Fay, if there was to be a blackout at an NFL venue, then there would be no way to screen for security.

Oncor is among the utility companies which are implementing rolling blackouts. Company spokeswoman Megan Wright said that public safety is crucial. “The Central Business District in Dallas has multiple high rises where there could be lots of people,” Wright explained. “If they lose power, it could be a bad safety situation.”

But there is another, unavoidable reason that Cowboys Stadium will not experience a blackout. That venue sits on multiple power grids. If one goes out, another flips on seamlessly, without any interruption to power. So, although one grid might see a blackout, the rolling outage process ensures that the stadium is always receiving power from another grid.

Downtown Dallas and Fort Worth are also on multiple, redundant power grids.

According to Oncor, businesses and residents can pay extra money to be on multiple power grids, but it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for the infrastructure to be set up. And even then, technically, rolling blackouts could still be possible to those people.

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