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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas urged Texans to cut back on power usage last week when an unusually large number of power plants shut down for unexpected repairs as temperatures soared.

ERCOT officials announced Friday that Texans could resume normal levels of electricity use, however.

ERCOT came under fire after widespread outages during the winter storm in mid-February, resulting in the CEO being forced out and much of the board replaced.

Saturday marked the official first day of summer.

Border wall construction

Gov. Gregg Abbott last week announced several key facets of his plan for the state to build a wall on its border with Mexico. Abbott and other state leaders signed a letter during a press conference, allowing the transfer of $250 million to begin construction and to hire a program manager and contractors.

The program manager will hire contractors and subcontractors needed to build the wall and will identify available state land, as well as private land whose owners are willing to volunteer space for the wall.

Meanwhile, Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced approximately 591,595 acres of state-owned land will receive emergency authorization to be used to build part of the wall. Texas and Mexico share 1,254 miles of common border, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The governor is also seeking donations for building a wall via www. State lawmakers allocated $1 billion for border security in the recently passed budget, but Democratic officials have pointed out most of that money goes to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Abbott appoints Cobos to PUC

Abbott last week appointed Lori Cobos to the PUC. She fills a term scheduled to expire on Sept. 1, although she could be reappointed. Senate confirmation is not required since the Legislature is not in session.

The PUC will have a full complement of commissioners for the first time since February.

“I am proud to appoint Lori Cobos to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and I know that she will draw upon her wealth of experience and knowledge to faithfully serve the people of Texas,” Abbott said.

Cobos has served in several senior-level posts at the PUC and ERCOT, including as chief executive and public counsel for the Office of Public Utility Counsel.

As a commissioner, she will draw a salary of $201,000 annually.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@texaspress.