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PG&E Supports Metallic Balloon Safety Legislation

Release Date: May 03, 2016
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Breakfast in bed, macaroni necklaces, flowers and balloon bouquets may be popular gifts this Mother's Day, but Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers that metallic balloons can cause power outages and pose a public safety risk. Last year, metallic balloons striking electric lines caused 370 power outages in PG&E's service area alone, disrupting electric service to more than 198,000 homes and businesses. That's why PG&E is supporting California Assembly Bill 2709 – legislation that aims to drastically reduce power outages and enhance public safety by banning the sale or distribution of balloons made of electrically conductive material.

"Electric outages caused by metallic balloons have steadily increased in the last decade, despite public service announcements and awareness campaigns. Public safety is PG&E's top priority and we want to help ensure that balloons are enjoyed responsibly, so the appliances stay on to provide breakfast in bed for mom," said Jason Regan, director, PG&E Emergency Management.

In addition to disrupting electric service, metallic balloons contacting power lines can create a public safety risk. Last year, a metallic balloon striking a power line sparked the Webb Fire which burned 75 acres in Butte County.

AB 2709, introduced by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), is under consideration by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. If passed, the balloon ban would go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. California Municipal Utilities Association, California Fire Chiefs Association, City of Glendale Water and Power Department, Fire Districts Association of California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Southern California Edison and Southern California Public Power Authority also support the bill.

With Mother's Day on Sunday, PG&E urges families celebrating with balloons to follow these important safety tips:

  • "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.
  • Keep metallic balloons indoors, when possible. For everyone's safety, never permit metallic balloons to be released outside.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone, and immediately 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 far 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 utilities 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 pge.com and pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.

 

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