Metallic balloon causes 2,000 San Jose customers to lose power

SAN JOSE (KRON) — A metallic balloon caused a power outage for thousands of PG&E customers in San Jose on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, PG&E put out a warning, as a lot of people get the metallic balloons for Valentine’s Day.

The outage affected 2,000 customers.

Power was quickly restored.

Here is the full statement from PG&E:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — More metallic balloons are sold for Valentine’s Day than any other holiday and, not surprisingly, it’s also around this time of year that customers suffer from outages caused by unsecured metallic balloons drifting into power lines. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds its customers as they celebrate their sweethearts to make sure balloons are always tied to a weight – as required by California law<http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=653.1.&gt; – and to never release them outdoors.

“Metallic balloons are conductors of electricity and pose a significant threat to power lines if released into the air. It takes only one metallic balloon to inconvenience thousands of customers, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious injuries,” said Pat Hogan, Senior Vice President of Electric Operations at PG&E.

Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of 456 power outages across PG&E’s service area in Northern and Central California, disrupting electric service to more than 371,000 homes and businesses. These types of power outages have more than tripled over the past decade in PG&E’s service area. In the Bay Area, 227 outages were caused by metallic balloons floating into power lines in 2017, leaving 152,111 customers in the dark.

The top five cities for balloon-caused outages in 2017 are:

1. San Jose: 25
2. Fresno: 14
3. Oakland: 11
4. Bakersfield: 11
5. San Francisco: 10

In 2016, 429 outages were caused by metallic balloons – a significant spike from 2015 when 370 balloons disrupted electric service. Unlike latex helium balloons, metallic balloons can stay inflated and floating for two to three weeks – posing a hazard to power lines and equipment even days after being released outside.

PG&E urges customers to follow these important safety tips for handling metallic balloons:

· “Look Up and Live!” – Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.

· Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.

· When done with balloons, do not release them. Puncture them several times or cut the knot and throw them in the garbage to prevent them from floating away.

· Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon — or any foreign object — tangled in power lines or inside a substation. Instead, call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000<tel:1-800-743-5000> to report the problem.

· Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and extremely dangerous. Stay away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.

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