Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Loy Yang coal-fired power station, about 150 km (93 miles) east of Melbourne in Victoria state, April 2, 2012. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

SYDNEY — Large parts of the Australian state of Victoria were left without power on Tuesday afternoon when a major power plant was shut down as a storm knocked out parts of the state's electricity transmission network.

AGL's Loy Yang A power plant, responsible for about a third of the state's power, was forced to close on Tuesday afternoon after several towers along a key section of the state's transmission network collapsed due to to bad weather.

More than 500,000 homes or businesses were left without power, state Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said in a social media post.

READ: Australians urged to save electricity to ease energy crisis

With the plant's closure, electricity prices soared across the state to a high of A$16,600 per megawatt-hour, up from around A$200, according to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

In response, AEMO ordered a reduction in electricity consumption across the network, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

D'Ambrosio said in his post that one of Loy Yang's four units has been put back into operation and mandatory power cuts have ended.

TO READ: Blackout freezes Australia's largest airport

AGL did not immediately respond to questions about Loy Yang's status.

The failure comes amid repeated warnings from AEMO that urgent investment is needed to ensure power supplies remain reliable as the country's fleet of aging coal-fired power stations is decommissioned.

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