Ten years after its creation, a non-profit "utility" that's supposed to provide New York consumers with a reliable and affordable flow of electricity is spending heavily on consultants -- paying generous salaries, perks and bonuses to its locally based work force and drawing plenty of criticism.

All of this is affecting ratepayers because expenses at the New York Independent System Operator, the "NYISO" as it's called, end up getting covered by industry charges passed on to consumers.

Now, as it plans for another year of drawing more than $150 million in tariff costs from power generators and distributors that wind up in electricity bills, the NYISO, which drew its first breaths in December 1999 as part of the deregulation of the power industry, is plotting another major expense. Directors intend to build a new electricity grid control center -- a $50 million replacement of the facility currently housed in a large, bunker-like building in Guilderland which was recently renovated.

The new center would rise in East Greenbush next to the Class-A office building the NYISO purchased in 2005 for $14.5 million from Phoenix Cos. NYISO corporate executives and a staff of 436 moved to the sprawling campus from Guilderland at that time.

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