Bill to Reduce Power Outages Caused by Metallic Film Balloons is Signed

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 2450, authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), to decrease the amount of power outages caused by metallic film balloons, also known as Mylar, has been signed into law.

 

Each year, electric utilities experience hundreds of power outages caused by the release of Mylar balloons when they come into contact with power lines. Over 1 million customers have been affected by a power outage caused by a metallic film balloon since 2015. CAL FIRE documented two fires in 2013 and 2015, the Deer and Webb Fires, caused by metallic film balloons, which burned over 10,000 acres combined.

 

Earlier this year, a Mylar balloon hit the third rail at BART’s Civic Center Station, cutting power at the station during the start of the morning rush hour.  The explosion shut down BART’s transit system in the San Francisco area for more than an hour and caused delays hours after.

 

Specifically, AB 2450 specifies that consumer notices warning of the risk of Mylar balloons must be printed on the balloons in a conspicuous location and in a readable font size.

 

“Power outages caused by metallic film balloons disrupt all sorts of activities, including traffic signals, lights, business and personal activity. They occur more frequently than people realize,” said Assemblymember Quirk.

 

Utilities, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE), and Southern California Edison (SCE), issue consumer advisory notices during certain holidays (example: graduation and Mother’s Day) when Mylar balloons sales tend to be high. These advisories warn about the dangers of releasing the balloons and how to properly handle and discard.

 

“As a transit agency that relies on electricity to run our trains, BART is pleased to see AB 2450 signed into law. Metallic balloons pose a hazard to BART’s daily operations, as seen this past year when a metallic balloon connected with electrified rail at Civic Center Station causing a service disruption. Incidents such as these can be prevented through better consumer education and BART thanks Assemblymember Quirk for pursuing this legislation,” said Robert Raburn, PhD, President of BART.

 

“The reliability of the grid is critically important in the lives of our residents and the productivity of businesses. With an ever-increasing number of electrical outages caused by released metallic balloons affecting the system’s reliability, we want to thank Assemblymember Quirk for his commitment to protecting the state’s grid and for bringing forward legislation to safeguard the residents and businesses in his district and beyond. We also thank Gov. Brown for his signing of this needed legislation to increase the reliability and safety of the grid,” said Ronald O. Nichols, President of Southern California Edison.

 

“I thank my supporters for their work in helping me collect data and draw attention to the seriousness of this issue. I guess third time is a charm! Metallic film balloons pose a serious public safety risk because people can come into contact with high voltage power. Not to mention, as our state continues to experience dryer conditions, they pose a very serious fire hazard. AB 2450 helps Californians understand the significant risk of these otherwise delightful products,” said Assemblymember Quirk upon learning of Governor Brown’s signature.

 

This is Assemblymember Quirk’s third attempt to address power outages caused by Mylar balloons. Previous efforts have either stalled in the legislative process or have been vetoed by Governor Brown.

 

AB 2450 will go into effect January 1, 2019.