Coal, solar companies claim Super Bowl outage makes their case

But for Peabody Energy, a major coal producer, the message was quite different. The coal giant’s CEO said the outage “offered a convincing visual demonstration to counter those who have envisioned a world without coal.”

“Without coal, you might as well turn off half the lights not just for our favorite games but also for our cities, shops, factories and homes,” CEO Gregory H. Boyce said in a statement Monday.

The claim has limited application to the Super Bowl. While officials are still investigating what exactly happened, Entergy Corp., the utility that provides power to the Superdome, has said there wasn’t a problem on its end.

And The Wall Street Journal, taking stock of Peabody's statement, notes that even if it had been a supply problem, the vast majority of power in Entergy’s New Orleans unit comes from nuclear or natural gas-fired generation.

NRG’s Crane, for his part, said on CNBC Tuesday morning that the 1,300-panel MetLife Stadium solar system provides 400 kilowatts, which is a very small fraction of the 18 megawatts of power that he said the New Jersey stadium needs on game days.

Still, he said more broadly that extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy reveal the usefulness of so-called "distributed sources" of power like solar panels when the grid is disrupted.

“In the era of extreme weather that we are entering, the grid is going to get torn down,” he said. “It is insane to have a 21st century economy that is based on wooden poles, and now the technology exists for people to have more distributed generation.”

What’s clear is that the Super Bowl problem may be putting new focus on energy policy and delivery.

“Who would have known,” Crane quipped on CNBC, “that electricity could be interesting.”