Mylar balloons cause major power outage in Palo Alto

Image taken from Palo Alto Utilities outage website at 2:19 p.m. on Saturday, June 2.

By the Daily Post staff

Update, 3:15 p.m.: Power has been restored to more than 4,381 Palo Alto residents and businesses after mylar balloons caused touched power lines and caused an outage, according to the Palo Alto Utilities Department.

This report from PG&E says mylar balloons cause the utility about 300 outages a year. Here are some tips for handling mylar balloons from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

Update, 2:50 p.m.: Palo Alto Utilities said it hopes to have power restored by 3 p.m. this afternoon. The power outage, which hit the southern and western parts of town, is being blamed on a mylar balloons hitting a power line and causing a short circuit.

Original report, 1:50 p.m., updated 2:50 p.m.:

Palo Alto Utilities says a possible blown transformer has cut power to 4,381 customers today (June 2).

The Utilities Department said at 1:50 p.m. it has crews working on the problem but they don’t have a time for when power would be restored.

Here are the areas of town hit by the outage as of 2:37 p.m.:
Neighborhood # Out # Served % Out
Greenmeadow 954 1032 92.44%
Green Acres 937 1062 88.23%
Palo Verde 1257 2211 56.85%
Charleston Meadows 624 1231 50.69%
Stanford Research Park 105 289 36.33%
Midtown/Midtown West 396 3999 9.90%
Ventura 103 1224 8.42%
Fairmeadow 5 294 1.70%

The outage happened on a particularly warm afternoon when it’s likely people were running their air conditioners to keep comfortable. It’s too early to know whether that was a factor in today’s outage.

From the Weather Underground webpage.

Police are asking residents to refrain from calling 9-1-1 to report the outage. They say dispatchers are getting inundated with calls and have no additional information to provide at this point.

The Utilities Department is providing information on its website, which includes a map showing the location of the current outage. will have more updates as additional information becomes available.


  1. This sure gets old, every couple of months we have a day long power outage. Does the city maintain its equipment and lines? I feel like I’m living in a Third World country (yet I pay First World utility bills and taxes).

  2. The emergency alert says Saturday’s power outage to more than 4,000 homes in Palo Alto was caused by mylar balloons contacting electrical power lines!! All gas-filled balloons should be outlawed for four reasons: a child could pop one and choke on it; they often fall into the ocean or rivers where sea animals and fish ingest them and then die; they can short out power lines; and they pollute our landscape wherever they land! Governments—please make them illegal, and fellow citizens—please do not buy them.

  3. How ignorant do you have to be to have not seen the public service announcements about mylar balloons? If this was a graduation party, let’s hope the graduate wasn’t the stupid person who brought mylar balloons to the party.

  4. We all have to suffer because another person is stupid. And they’ll probably just get a warning or a strongly worded letter from the City.

  5. Does anybody keep track as to how often Palo Alto has power disruptions? I’d like to know how the City’s record stacks up with a normal utility company. I wonder if the City is neglecting maintenance in order to pull as much money as possible from utility bills to pay the high salaries at City Hall.

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