New Balloon Safety Law to Make Celebrations with Metallic Balloons Safer and Reduce Balloon-Caused Power Outages for Guests

OAKLAND, Calif.–()–Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) expressed support for a new metal balloon law that will improve safety for PG&E employees, customers and communities. Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 847 which allows the sale of mylar or metallic balloons in California only if those balloons do not cause electrical faults when they come in contact with distribution lines aerial.

Metallic balloons conduct electricity and can pose a significant threat to public safety if released into the air. If they float in power lines, they can disrupt electrical service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially lead to serious injury.

Here’s an example of what can happen when metal balloons break loose and hit utility power lines.

Specifically, the new law requires balloons sold in the state after 2027 to meet Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer standards. The standard requires that the balloons be non-conductive at distribution voltages up to 38 kilovolts (kV). Of the 47 fires caused by metal balloons in 2020-2021, 44 (90%) occurred on power lines with voltages below 35 kV. These fires could have been prevented under the new law.

“Outages caused by balloons have increased in recent years and can cause ignitions when interacting with electrical assets. This legislation will help minimize this risk and is part of our unwavering commitment to keep our customers safe. and our hometowns,” said Sumeet Singh, executive vice president and chief risk and security officer, PG&E.

Failures related to metal balloons can pose a forest fire hazard. In 2015, a metal balloon coming into contact with overhead lines started the Webb Fire in Butte County which burned 75 acres. Since 2018, the number of balloon-related ignitions has increased in frequency.

Tank-related failures also have an impact on electrical reliability. In 2021, metal balloons that drifted into PG&E power lines caused more than 600 outages, a 27% increase from the previous year and the most balloon-related outages PG&E has experienced in one year. decade.

Thanks to the new legislation, sales of non-compliant party balloons would be banned after January 1, 2027. In the meantime, PG&E reminds customers to follow these important metal balloon safety tips:

  • “Look up and live!” Be careful and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead power lines.

  • Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely attached to a weight heavy enough to keep them from blowing away. Never remove the weight.

  • Whenever possible, keep metallic balloons indoors. Never let out metal balloons outside, for everyone’s safety.

  • Do not group metallic balloons together.

  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite, drone or toy caught in a power line. Leave it alone and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.

  • Never approach a downed or suspended power line. Always assume that downed power lines are live and extremely dangerous. Stay away, keep others away, and call 911 immediately to alert the police and fire department. You can find more tips at pge.com/beprepared

  • Visit our Safety Action Center for balloon safety graphics and other safety tips: https://www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com/articles/44-celebrate-safely

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Company (NYSE: PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in northern and central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.