Foil Balloons Cause Power Disruption in Utah

As Oklahomans manage drought and storm damage, some Utah citizens are dealing with the aftermath of balloon litter in the form of a power disruption.

Thousands of people in Tooele County, Utah lost power on Wednesday due to two separate incidents involving a metallized foil balloon and preceding truck accident.

According to Rocky Mountain Power, the first incident occurred at 9:45 a.m. when a truck hit a power pole, causing over 1,100 customers to lose service.

A few hours later, a separate outage happened just before 12:45 p.m. with temperatures nearing 90 degrees in the area. The cause was a metallized foil balloon striking a transmission line and knocking out power to over 2,625 customers.

All users have had their power restored in the balloon incident. This type of balloon can become easily entangled in power lines and cause electrical disruptions due to their electrical conduction properties. 

While there is no national collection of data on the impact of foil balloons on power supplies, a 2017 study by Witmer, Register & McKay maintains that up to 20% of power outages are caused by balloons making contact with power lines.