Power outage caused by Mylar balloons

Several power outages affected thousands of residents in recent months

Thousands of residents in Mountain View have been on the receiving end of three power outages since late August. Metallic balloons are the culprit in the latest outage, which occurred in the Shoreline West region on Sunday morning.

PG&E officials say the outage, reported around 7:50 a.m. on Sept. 30, occurred after metallic balloons came in contact with power lines near the intersection of Chiquita Avenue and Mercy Street, causing power to go out for 4,400 customers. Crews removed the balloons and had to replace damaged power lines and a blown transformer, PG&E spokeswoman Mayra Tostado told the Voice.

The repair work took nearly five hours to complete, and power was fully restored around 12:35 p.m.

Metallic balloons, also known as Mylar balloons, can cause a surge of electricity that short-circuits equipment, Tostado said, which can lead to outages, fires and injuries. The balloons were to blame for 456 power outages in California across PG&E's service area in Northern and Central California in 2017, affecting a total of 371,000 homes and businesses.

"PG&E urges its customers to make sure their balloons are always tied to a weight as required by California law and to never release them outdoors," she said.

Other major outages that impacted a similar region of the city included an "equipment failure" on Sept. 3, which affected 4,440 customers and lasted over six and a half hours, Tostado said. Before that, 6,030 customers were affected by an outage on Aug. 26 caused by a squirrel that gnawed on a power line near the intersection of California and Castro streets, causing nearby electric equipment to fail.

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31 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 3, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Ban the damn things already. They have no valid reason to exist. Power failures are huge public safety problem. Most power failures seem to be blamed on mylar balloons these days. Even if the government is slow to act, local retailers can still step up and stop selling them.

5 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2018 at 4:33 pm

I don’t understand why our electric power lines are so susceptible to Mylar balloons. Aren’t they more rugged or insulated enough? Birds and squirrels run around up there without problems.

15 people like this
Posted by @Bill
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Electricians reading this just ruined their computers with spat coffee.

15 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2018 at 5:53 pm

I'm making little Mylar outfits for the squirrels so they don't get cold this winter

1 person likes this
Posted by Don Keedick
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 3, 2018 at 7:06 pm

This is how they will undermine us.

6 people like this
Posted by Again and again
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2018 at 9:53 am

Don't these mylar balloons cause this issue year in and year out all over the country?
Get these things off store shelves!

18 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm

The #1 cause of power failures in Palo Alto is mylar balloons. News report: Web Link

8 people like this
Posted by Why continue selling them?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2018 at 8:56 am

If some new high shooting nerf gun was continually causing power outages affecting entire swaths of a city they would put a stop to it.
Free pass for these things? Everyone OK to continue to have it happen, because IT WILL CONTINUE IF NOTHING IS DONE.
I hope none of you are in the middle of an important development when all goes dead in your house because some idiot let his balloon go.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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