The skyrocketing rise in energy prices is the first crisis facing the new Labor government, as households and industries brace for a hit to their finances from soaring bills. Treasurer Jim Chalmers calls it a "perfect storm" while business groups have described the problem as no less than "apocalyptic". Households relying on heating through the cold snap, and industries exposed to price rises, are looking to governments for solutions. While state and federal energy ministers met on Wednesday to work out options, energy experts and economists warn there aren't many short-term fixes on the table. The Australian Energy Market Operator has reported that wholesale prices went up 141 per cent in the first quarter of 2022, compared to last year. It imposed a wholesale price cap of $40 per gigajoule ahead of forecasts the spot price in Victoria was set to climb $382. The "shadow price", which indicates what prices would have reached without the cap, hit $800 on May 31. A broad coalition of peak bodies united on Tuesday to warn that wholesale electricity and gas prices were soaring to unprecedented levels that threatened intense and lasting pain for households and businesses, and were causing chaos for smaller energy retailers. The group, which included social services, farming, environmental, consumer advocacy, investor and industry bodies, said recent increases to the maximum price that retailers can charge electricity customers on standing offer contracts were only the start. "Meanwhile those businesses unable to pass on their costs fear mounting cost pressures will threaten their viability, and some with immediate exposure have already been forced to temporarily shut down operations as prices spike," the coalition of peak bodies said. There's a reason why the Albanese government has called it a "perfect storm". A mixture of international and domestic factors have coincided, and combined in a way that has sent prices soaring. They involve the economy, weather, and politics among other causes. In looking back at the causes leading to the spikes in prices, the Russian invasion of Ukraine stands out as a major development. European nations are trying to become less dependent on Russian gas, and looking elsewhere for supply, buying from other countries like Australia and pushing up the international price of liquefied natural gas. Some Australian exporters have received prices four times or more times higher than usual, according to the Grattan Institute's Tony Wood. There are a few domestic causes, too. There have been outages at coal-fired power stations this year, making the nation more reliant on gas generators. More than a quarter of coal-fired plants have been offline for much of the year. A shortage in gas supply in south-east Australia has also played a role, prompting calls for the federal government to use an emergency provision to force exporters to keep more gas onshore for domestic use. Then there's the weather. The cold snap on Australia's east coast has created a spike in demand for gas for heating, as households try to stave off the chill that has arrived so early in the winter. READ MORE: The Australian Energy Council's chief executive Sarah McNamara says plant outages and coal supply constraints have impacted electricity supply and that lower output from renewable energy sources are expected over winter. UNSW Business School associate professor Katja Ignatieva says further increases in energy prices are likely until there is some resolution to the war in Ukraine, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries increases its oil production for export, and Australia generates sufficient energy through renewable energy or in combination with "old" dispatchable energy. The coalition of peak bodies warned high international prices for coal and gas were the biggest factor in the rise in energy prices and were likely to be sustained for years ahead. Both the federal government and economists have warned there is no quick fix to the problem. Energy Minister Chris Bowen met on Wednesday with his state and territory counterparts to find a solution together, a move that peak bodies have said is necessary to address the crisis. "No one player holds all the powers, resources and information to resolve this crisis," the group said. It's called for an immediate response to "calm chaos" and alleviate the acute pain of higher prices for households and businesses, saying financial support will be needed for the most vulnerable energy users. These include income support payments and energy concessions for low-income households, and support for energy-intensive businesses coming out of contracts or exposed to spot energy prices, and unable to pass increased costs on. In their meeting, energy ministers agreed to a plan to hand Australia's energy market operator new powers to purchase and store gas to help avoid shortages. Regulators have also been ordered to fast-track development of a so-called capacity mechanism to shore up supply. Resources Minister Madeleine King this week said coal-fired power plants needed to come back online to provide short-term relief. Associate Professor Ignatieva agreed this was a viable solution in the short term, while Australia was transitioning from fossil-fuel generation to renewables. "Clearly, some investment into 'old' dispatchable generation could help reduce risks for market participants and retailers, and guarantee the short- to mid-term economic sustainability of the sector," she said. "However, in the long term, an increasing share of renewable energy generation is the most effective solution." Energy economists say governments should be planning for the future, and moving quickly to bring in new investment in electricity generation. Australian National University expert Paul Burke said the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option was bringing much more solar and wind power into the grid. "To do that, we need to improve our transmission grid so that it's connecting up to the windiest and sunniest locations and helping to deliver cheap and clean electricity to where we need it, the big cities, industrial locations and elsewhere" Professor Burke said. Governments could also do more to make households more energy efficient, particularly rental properties. "If we're more efficient, we don't need as much of the electricity in the first place," he said.