despite the importance of the sector. Another energy-use sector not currently covered by any of EIA’s energy consumption surveys is energy suppliers.
EIA’s funding is based on annual appropriations from Congress, with the President’s budget request for EIA falling under the authority of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on energy and water development. The 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPACT, P.L. 102-486) introduced a requirement to conduct surveys of residential and commercial energy consumption at least every three years, and a survey of manufacturing energy consumption every two years, but EIA never had the funding necessary to follow the mandated frequencies (French, 2007). In the mid 1990s the CBECS, RECS, and MECS were moved to a quadrennial schedule, and as discussed, the RTECS was discontinued.
The panel’s charge for this study was to review EIA’s energy consumption surveys in the commercial and residential sectors. The panel did not evaluate the availability of energy consumption data in any of the other sectors. However, data users voiced concerns related to the lack of adequate energy consumption data in the transportation field in particular. It appears that although there are efforts to fill the gap (for example, by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and by states that produce their own estimates), there is a need for national, standardized data on energy consumption in the transportation sector, comparable to the data produced by the CBECS and RECS in the commercial and residential sectors.
EIA interprets the EPACT reference to the collection of residential energy consumption data as a directive to conduct the RECS. However, an external review of the surveys conducted in 2006 argued that the directive includes the collection of household transportation data—in other words, the RTECS as well (French, 2007). The 2009 RECS incorporated a small number of new questions on household transportation, but it is difficult to imagine that the already lengthy RECS could accommodate more questions on this topic.
The year 2011 was especially challenging for EIA, and particularly for the CBECS. After a lengthy delay in the processing of the 2007 CBECS, which had been based on a new design that was expected to be more cost effective, EIA announced, “Because the data do not meet EIA standards for quality, credible energy information, neither data tables nor a public use file will be released” (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2011e). A second blow came in the form of a significant budget cut, when despite the President’s budget request of $129 million, the fiscal year 2011 budget provided only $95.4 million for EIA, a reduction of 14 percent from the