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NSW power so erratically expensive an aluminium smelter powered down three times in a week


But the price spikes in electricity are so crippling the industrial giant could not afford to keep running on three occasions in the last week. Welcome to Venezaustralia.

And it's not even winter yet:

Tomago aluminium smelter powers down three times in a week due to electricity shortages

A massive 35,000 per cent spike in wholesale power prices due to supply shortages has forced a NSW aluminium smelter to shut down three times in the past week to keep the lights on in Sydney.

The Tomago smelter, which supports more than 1800 local jobs, has had to power down multiple times since May 12 to ensure households across the state have enough power for heating as winter sets in.

Tomago chief executive Matt Howell said the sudden power price hike to $14,500 a megawatt hour was the equivalent of ­petrol prices going up to $400 a litre.

This time it was mega-price-spikes but other days Tomago plays Electricity-Saint for NSW, saving it from blackouts because it can dump 630MW in five minutes.

Rafe Champion, Catallaxy

Tomago provides critical energy security to NSW and the National Energy Market (NEM) because it has the largest interruptible load in the NEM. It can reduce load by as much as 630MW in as little as five minutes to ensure blackouts are averted when there is a system security risk. By way of comparison, the next largest interruptible load in NSW is 50MW. The grid cannot currently operate without the fallback option of being able to request that big industry users power down.