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Marketers Protest EIA Northeast Surveys

Marketers Protest EIA Northeast Surveys

If the Energy Information Agency (EIA) was envisioning a smooth road ahead when it filed for an emergency approval from the Office of Management and Budget for a new energy survey in the Northeast, the agency is in for a rude awakening.

The proposed bi-weekly survey, which would allow the EIA to study the Northeast energy market this winter, has run into protests from the National Energy Marketers Association (NEM), which labels it "a rulemaking in excess of EIA's statutory authority," and therefore believes the project should be rescinded. The association further asserts that the EIA's consideration of the costs of compliance involved are inadequate.

EIA, which filed for an emergency approval in the Federal Register on Dec. 26, 2000, already has funding from Congress for the 2000-2001 winter heating surveys, which would monitor interruptible natural gas contracts through the gathering of information from approximately 40 natural gas suppliers, 270 petroleum product suppliers, and about 300 major energy consumers in the interruptible contract states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The EIA hopes that with the information it collects pertaining to deliveries and interruptions from gas suppliers, inventories and switching capabilities from petroleum suppliers, and general usage data from large customers, it will be better able to understand the roles that interruptible service plays on commodity prices in those markets.

NEM claims that this is the third time the EIA has attempted to impose reporting requirements on unregulated natural gas suppliers without statutory authority within the last year. The association said the surveys would be "burdensome" on suppliers, and protests that the cost to gas suppliers that have been allocated by the EIA, are too low.

NEM said that the surveys "are a proposed rulemaking with potentially major microeconomic and macroeconomic impacts." Furthermore, the association believes that the most statistically reliable sources of data are the LDCs, and suggests that the surveys should be recast to require only LDCs to report.

EIA said that seeking emergency approval was the only method available to ensure timely collection of information during the 2000-2001 heating season. Comments on the proposed surveys were to be filed as of Jan. 2, 2001.

For more information on the proposed survey debate, contact EIA's Herbert Miller via e-mail at Herbert.Miller@eia.doe.gov, or Craig G. Goodman, president of NEM at cgoodman@energymarketers.com.

Alex Steis

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