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News Release
Hold on to your balloons! - 02/12/20

Contact:  Pacific Power media hotline                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

               1-800-570-5838                                           Feb. 12, 2020


Hold on to your balloons!
With celebrations from Valentine’s Day to Mardi Gras at hand, Pacific Power reminds that balloons don’t mix with power lines

PORTLAND, Ore. – Balloons capture the imagination with their aspirational upward drift. But their lighter-than-air quality can get out of hand, literally, and have unintended consequences for the power grid


“Balloons may seem like small things,” said Joe Cissna, Pacific Power’s director of safety and training. “But when escaped balloons touch power lines or substations, even the smallest amount of metal content material can conduct electricity. This can interfere with lines, causing power fluctuations and outages.”


In 2019, Pacific Power recorded 22 instances where balloons caused outages somewhere in the three states the company serves. Each year since 2015, balloons caused between 20 and 30 outages, roughly the same number of outages as those caused by lighting.


“While this may not seem like very many events,” Cissna said, “unlike lightning-caused outages, these are preventable. If we can keep customers from being inconvenienced by asking people to be more careful in how they handle balloons, we’ll do it.”


There are steps you can take to help minimize the potential dangers:


  • Keep the balloons indoors where they can’t rise into overhead power lines or drift into contact with transformers or substations.


  • Make sure the string for each balloon is securely attached and short enough to control its direction.


  • Attach a weight to the balloon’s string so it cannot float away; and never intentionally release metallic balloons.


  • Deflate balloons after the holiday and keep as a memento or dispose of properly. Birds and squirrels have been known to carry balloon remnants onto lines.


  • Never chase a loose balloon across streets or attempt to retrieve a balloon from a power line or substation. 


  • If you notice a balloon near a power line, do not try to retrieve it. Report it to Pacific Power by calling 1-888-222-7070 anytime.



About Pacific Power

Pacific Power is headquartered in Portland and provides electric service to almost 770,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. As part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power provide approximately 1.9 million customers in six western states with reliable, efficient energy. The company works to meet growing energy demand while protecting and enhancing the environment.

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