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Valentine’s Day Causes Electric Company Headaches

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Energy officials are reminding lovers to let go of their emotions and not their balloons this Valentine’s Day.

Metallic and mylar balloons are popular for Valentine’s Day, moreso than any other holiday, but they can also be extremely damaging if caught in power lines. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) wants to remind customers that balloons must legally be tied to a weight and should never be released outdoors.

Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of more than 450 power outages across PG&E’s service area in Northern and Central California, disrupting electric service to more than 371,000 homes and businesses.

PG&E reports that on March 11, 2017, metallic balloons made contact with overhead power lines in Placerville and caused an outage that impacted more than 14,000 customers. The very next day in Stockton, come metallic balloons got tangled up in power lines that caused an outage impacting 4,194 customers.

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.

“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 Dave Meier, senior manager of PG&E’s Sacramento, Sierra and Stockton Divisions in a pres release.

In 2016, 429 outages were caused by metallic balloons – a significant spike from 2015 when 370 balloons disrupted electric service.

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