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Energy grid at ‘crisis point’ as power prices surge 160 times the usual rate

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The state’s energy grid is at a “crisis point” as power prices soared to more than 100 times the usual rate last week.

Several major electricity power stations went down on Thursday night, unprepared for a spike in demand caused by a cold snap along Australia’s east coast.

It forced one of Australia’s largest aluminium smelters to shut down its potlines for an hour at a time to help keep the state’s lights on.

On three separate occasions Tomago, the state’s largest single energy user, was forced to halt production as spot prices soared to a staggering $14,000 per megawatt hour.

CEO Matt Howell tells Ray Hadley the price hike would be like a motorist paying over $400 a litre for petrol and would have seen his business lose $5 million an hour.

“What we need is constant energy supply. The question is, when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing, where does that energy come from?”

Mr Howell has hit back at suggestions New South Wales should go down the same track as South Australia and buy a giant Tesla battery.

“The largest battery in the world… would power this smelter for all of eight minutes. It’s clearly a nonsense.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview with Tomago CEO Matt Howell

Finance Editor Ross Greenwood tells Ray it was a “close run”, with the state running out of energy reserves from Wednesday through Friday last week.

“There were three big electricity power stations that went down on an unscheduled basis.”

“If Liddell comes out it’ll be a bigger problem because more of those coal-fired power stations will have more pressure and stress placed upon them,” Ross explains.

Click PLAY below to hear from Money News Host Ross Greenwood

Queensland One Nation Leader Steve Dickson weighed in on the issue, phoning in to call for coal-fired power stations to be put at the top of the national agenda.

“At the end of the day, you have a spare tyre in the car for a reason.

“We need a spare tyre and it’s called coal-fired generation.”

Click PLAY below for the full chat with Steve Dickson