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

Monday, July 31, 2017

Utility worker removes metallic film balloon from power line in Santa Monica in March 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 1091, 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 vetoed.

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 caused by metallic film balloons, which burned over 10,000 acres combined, and cost millions of dollars to suppress.

Specifically, AB 1091 would have clarified that the willful release of metallic balloons is completely prohibited.

“Power outages caused by metallic film balloons disrupt all sorts of activities, including traffic signals, lights, business and personal activity,” said Assemblymember Quirk.

““Electric reliability received a setback today. The Governor’s veto of AB 1091 means that power outages caused by metallic balloons released outdoors will continue to put communities in the dark as a result of these balloons hitting power lines,” said Barry Moline, Executive Director of the California municipal Utilities Association.

“AB 1091 addressed serious public safety and grid reliability concerns resulting from an ever-increasing number of outages caused by released metallic balloons. We thank Assemblymember Quirk for his commitment to protecting the state’s electric grid and for safeguarding the residents and businesses in his district and beyond. It is our hope that we can continue to work to address this important reliability and safety issue in future legislation,” said Ronald O. Nichols, President of Southern California Edison.

“There is plenty of data available that demonstrates metallic balloons pose a significant public safety risk. In the first seven months of 2017, over 100,000 customers have been affected by a power outage caused by one of these balloons coming in contact with a power line. I believe Governor Jerry Brown’s veto is misguided. However, I remain committed in working with utility companies, advocates and the balloon industry to find another solution to this problem,” said Assemblymember Quirk upon learning of Governor Brown’s veto.

AB 1091 would have gone into effect January 1, 2018.

Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly.  He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. He is also Chair of the Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy. He is a member of the Agriculture, Public Safety, Revenue and Taxation, and Utilities and Energy Committees.  Website of Assemblymember Quirk: http://www.asmdc.org/quirk