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Thousands lose power in West Valley after Mylar balloons touch power lines

File photo: Metallic balloon
Posted at 8:11 AM, Sep 24, 2020

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Electricity has been restored for thousands of Rocky Mountain Power customers in West Valley City after a brief outage Thursday morning.

A Rocky Mountain Power spokesman said the outage affected 3,121 customers from 5:24 to 5:59 a.m.

Those customers lost power after Mylar balloons came in contact with power lines, the RMP spokesman said.

According to an RMP news release, Mylar balloons were linked to nearly 60 outages that affected about 16,000 customers last year.

“Balloons may seem like small harmless things,” said Curt Mansfield, Rocky Mountain Power’s vice president of operations, in the news release. “But when Mylar balloons touch power lines, the metal material is conductive. This causes power fluctuations and outages.”

RMP offered the following tips for handling Mylar balloons safely:

  • 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 Rocky Mountain Power by calling 1-888-221-7070.