If the Energy Information Agency (EIA) was envisioning a smoothroad ahead when it filed for an emergency approval from the Officeof 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 tostudy the Northeast energy market this winter, has run intoprotests from the National Energy Marketers Association (NEM),which labels it “a rulemaking in excess of EIA’s statutoryauthority,” and therefore believes the project should be rescinded.The association further asserts that the EIA’s consideration of thecosts of compliance involved are inadequate.

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

The EIA hopes that with the information it collects pertainingto deliveries and interruptions from gas suppliers, inventories andswitching capabilities from petroleum suppliers, and general usagedata from large customers, it will be better able to understand theroles that interruptible service plays on commodity prices in thosemarkets.

NEM claims that this is the third time the EIA has attempted toimpose reporting requirements on unregulated natural gas supplierswithout statutory authority within the last year. The associationsaid the surveys would be “burdensome” on suppliers, and proteststhat the cost to gas suppliers that have been allocated by the EIA,are too low.

NEM said that the surveys “are a proposed rulemaking withpotentially major microeconomic and macroeconomic impacts.”Furthermore, the association believes that the most statisticallyreliable sources of data are the LDCs, and suggests that thesurveys should be recast to require only LDCs to report.

EIA said that seeking emergency approval was the only methodavailable to ensure timely collection of information during the2000-2001 heating season. Comments on the proposed surveys were tobe filed as of Jan. 2, 2001.

For more information on the proposed survey debate, contactEIA’s Herbert Miller via e-mail at Herbert.Miller@eia.doe.gov, orCraig G. Goodman, president of NEM at cgoodman@energymarketers.com.

Alex Steis

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