CANBERRA, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Manufacturers have threatened to leave Australia if the country's energy crisis cannot be resolved.
The closure of Victoria's Hazelwood power station, which supplied 22 percent of the state's power, has raised fears that the price of energy in Australia is about to skyrocket.
Terry O'Brien, chairman of the Food and Grocery Council, said that a price war in his industry had made companies unable to pass on power price hikes to consumer.
He said that as more companies were caught up in the pincer movement, the threat of large employers abandoning Australia all together was rising.
"The decision to stay or go gets more and more marginal as the days go on," O'Brien told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Sunday.
"And there's not a heck of a lot of sentiment in these internationally managed companies. They go where it makes sense. And if it's not going to make sense here, they leave."
Hazelwood will be the ninth Australian power plant to close in five years. Its shutting down means that blackouts will be a rising threat nationwide.
"To stop production through a lack of energy is just a disaster," O'Brien said.
Matthew Warren, CEO of the Australian Energy Council, said that the absence of Hazelwood left a "very fragile setup" of Australia's remaining generators.
"If anything goes wrong, if an interconnector fails or is switched off, if generating units can't meet their maximum output, we start risking blackouts," Mr Warren said.
The spate of closures comes as the country experiences a shortfall in gas to power domestic generators with most of Australia's gas reserves set to be exported.
Mark Richards, a unit controller at Hazelwood, said the plant had been running at maximum efficiency throughout the Australian summer and the grid had barely managed to meet demand.
"The real issue will be next summer," Richards told the ABC.
"There's already projections from (the market operator) showing that there's going to be shortfalls. And that's combined with the problems of gas price increases."