San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.... Aging Infrastructure

San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.... Aging Infrastructure

San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and Aging Infrastructure: The Challenges of Maintaining a Power Distribution Network

The United States is covered with an extensive power distribution network designed to ensure the smooth delivery of electricity to all parts of the country. In actuality, this network is comprised of countless smaller networks maintained by numerous different utility companies.  One feature that many of these networks have in common is built-in redundancy to ensure that the singular loss of a critical component, such as a power transformer, does not leave customers without electricity for an extended period of time. In spite of this redundancy, many portions of the U.S. distribution network suffer from problems relating to aging infrastructure.

The multiple power outages during last night’s NFL game at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park put these issues on display on national television. A massive transformer explosion at the 51-year-old stadium just before kickoff shut down the power for the entire stadium complex causing redundancies in the local distribution network to come on line. A short time later, power was lost again. It is not clear at this point why power was lost the second time, but the energy requirements for such a large complex are sure to place a strain on any backup system.

Incidents such as last night’s outage present unique challenges to the utilities charged with maintaining these networks – challenges that RTI’s forensic engineers are trained to address. Understanding the root cause of the incident becomes a necessity to ensure that repairs are performed properly and to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring. Further, should insurance claims be filed that address the cost of these repairs, the insurance companies will require the same root cause knowledge to determine the claims’ validity. In the event that lawsuits are brought against parties due to injuries or property loss suffered during an outage, a root cause investigation will almost certainly be necessary.

RTI’s forensic engineers have decades of experience designing, installing, maintaining, repairing, and investigating failures of all of the many components comprising power distribution networks of all sizes. RTI is poised to respond quickly to any issues that may arise with these highly complex and critical systems.