The US Energy Information Agency

The US Energy Information Agency, notes and comments

Recently an initiative by the US government to obtain “identified” commercial/industrial “cryptocurrency miners” was instituted by the Energy Information Agency (EIA). Interestingly, only the ‘identified’ ones are ‘required’ to provide detailed information back to the government or else be fined ~$10,000/day. While we can unpack this a little bit, let’s first discuss who the EIA is, what they do, why the survey is a weird request, and their authority to request such a survey.

The EIA was started in 1977 as a statistical agency for the Department of Energy. According to the DOE: It provides policy-independent data, forecasts, and analyzes to promote sound policy making, efficient markets, and public understanding regarding energy, and its interaction with the economy and the environment. Now here is the EIA definition of themself from their website: The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. EIA is the nation’s premier source of energy information, and, by law, its data, analyses, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the U.S. government. Note the differences between the definitions; remember the DOE birthed the EIA.

Interestingly, the EIA was the first government within the DOE to have an internet presence. On July 1, 1995, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) became the first agency within the U.S. Department of Energy to venture onto the Internet. They are supposed to have unbiased data ranging from natural gas storage, drilling productivity reports, and beyond. The EIA claims it’s an “independent” entity, if you wanted to challenge their data or ask from where they collect data, that data can be disclosed as part of a public inquiry. However, going down this avenue is extremely tiresome and could leave a false hope to find accurate data. I will say that the EIA does have the exposure to collect data that energy traders trade around and take large financial positions based on said data. The question remains, can you challenge their data in the name of accurate transparency in US energy markets? My response is yes, but again, just like dealing with any governmental body, be prepared that it could go nowhere while you’re sprinting in your hamster wheel.

A look at ‘Form EIA-862”

The EIA is asking cryptocurrency miners things like, ‘who is your electricity supplier’ (they have 5 rows of input) and note how they define an ‘electricity supplier’: ‘Please report the company name of the facility’s electric service provider. The electric service provider is the company that provides electricity services to the facility and to other end-users that are in its service territory. It may or may not supply the energy component of the service to the facility.’ They are asking, what kind of mining equipment the miners have, they want to see electricity invoices, and more. If you identify as a ‘cryptocurrency miner’ ask yourself: does anyone else do this as an industrial consumer of electricity? Why do I need to show electricity invoices to the federal government and risk getting fined for not doing so? Why should I have to disclose this information if my mining facility is in a deregulated electricity supplied marketplace? Isn’t the whole idea of deregulation, the ability to do PRIVATE negotiations for electricity supply between customer and energy entities without being required to disclose the strategy you negotiate?

Full disclosure, the EIA data is quite good with providing articulated data in multiple different types of energy types in my humble opinion however we are all humans, and we all make mistakes. Could the ask to comply with the form be an overreach or a form of singling out a business type? My challenge to the EIA, if miners must do this, why not require every industrial consumer do the same?

The conclusion is that this survey is an unnecessary waste of time. Most electric utilities have smart meter data and can read consumption accurately. Are the utilities identifying their rate payers or customers appropriately? When the utility was (and still is in some places) the monopoly, they didn’t need to, because any consumer of power or natural gas was getting electricity or natural gas delivered and supplied by one entity and one entity only. I would much rather see a more collaborative approach with the EIA providing real, accurate data, because that’s what it’s all about, right?

Final Thought: The EIA has a unit of measurement in Form EIA-812 entitled ‘burden hours’ (top right corner). Yes, you read this correctly. They are measuring the ‘burden’ of you punching that information into a keyboard, in hours. Really?

Peace Bass

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