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PG&E Warns of Valentine’s Day Hazard, Urges Customers to Secure Metallic Balloons

02/13/2018

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- 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 – 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. 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.

Floating metallic balloons resulted in outages throughout Northern and Central California.

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.

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 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.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.

Source: PG&E Corporation

PG&E Corporation

Media Relations, 415-973-5930

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