Some people dream of winning the lottery. Other people dream of getting triple sevens at a slot machine in Vegas. Empirical economists, on the other hand, dream of hitting a jackpot of data.
The data collected and made publicly available by the U.S. Energy Information Administration is the mother lode of data for many energy economists. We recently rallied our energy economist friends to tell Congress about the importance of EIA data to empirical researchers working on topics related to energy and the environment.
Public energy policy decisions are informed by high-quality economic research. From climate change to the role of speculators in oil markets, there is no shortage of energy topics in today’s economy that benefit from empirical research.
Providing EIA a budget that allows it to continue to collect complete and accurate data will allow economists to continue to produce reliable and informative economic research.
As an example, with the cut to EIA’s budget in FY2011, EIA halted its Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). The CBECS collects information on energy consumption and expenditures from a sample of commercial buildings across the U.S. Several of our colleagues at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory use CBECS data as a tool for benchmarking energy-use in commercial buildings. These benchmarks are being used to develop a way for loan underwriters to take energy efficiency into account when underwriting commercial mortgages. If EIA’s FY 2013 budget is cut, the future of the CBECS will be threatened again.