Survey Forms

FAQs for Survey Form EIA-861

Used in conjunction with the form instructions, this FAQ should serve to answer more specific questions about the EIA-861 form. If you still have questions once reviewing the instructions and FAQ, please contact a staff member at EIA-861@eia.gov for more information.

Accessing the survey online

I forgot my username and password, how can I get it?

If you are the registered Preparer and have forgotten your User ID, go to the EIA SSO Login screen (https://signon.eia.doe.gov/ssoserver/login) and click the 'Forgot your Userid?' link at the bottom. From there you can enter your last name and email address, and then it will be emailed to you. If it doesn't work, either you're not the registered Preparer, or the email address we have on file for you is different. In that case, contact a staff member for help.

If you have your User ID but forgot your password, go to the login screen and enter your User ID, then click the 'Forgot your password?' link. You will then see your previously established security question to answer in order to reset your password. Survey staff is unable to see or retrieve your password.

I can't gain access to the form, got any tips?

Start by trying the following suggestions. If these don't work, more software tips are below.

  • Most of the time log-in problems are because the incorrect User ID is being entered. Try the 'Forgot your Userid' link and see if you're using what we have on record.
  • Make sure that you're using Google Chrome or Internet Explorer as your web browser; sometimes our system doesn't work with Firefox or Opera.
  • If you need to download the latest version of Java Client software. To determine if you need an updated version of Java, follow that link and then click the "Do I have Java?" link. Once your version is detected, you'll be able to see if you need an update.
  • You can also check the Java help index.
  • If you have a pop-up blocker activated, turn it off.
  • Try logging in on another computer; some people find better results with this even though they have the same computer that worked last year.

I am unable to print the form, what do I do?

The report server may be down for maintenance. Wait a few minutes and retry. Also, be certain you have Acrobat Reader 7 or better installed on your PC. If it still won't print, most often the problem is because of a pop-up blocker. To temporarily override this, hold down the Control (CTRL) button on your keyboard while pressing the Print button on the screen. Be sure to hold down the CTRL button for about 5 seconds after you press print. If this does not work, send an email to survey staff requesting a PDF copy of your form. Make sure to reference the legal entity name, and/or utility ID number as found on schedule 1 of the survey.


Schedule 1

The person filling out the form has changed this year. Can they just use the old username and password?

For security purposes, we require that whenever there is a change with the person who prepares the form, the new contact must register with EIA's "Single Sign-On" system and create their own username and password. In this case, send an email requesting assistance to survey staff with "New Preparer" in the subject line. Make sure to provide the new Preparer's full contact profile including full name, email address, phone number, job title, work address, and fax number (if applicable). Once added, we will send the new Preparer instructions on how to register for EIA's data collection system.

Some of my contact information has changed. How do I update that?

If there is a change with an existing contact person's information (telephone, name, title, etc.) send an email to survey staff with the updates. Please reference the entity name and/or utility ID number so we may locate your contact information in the system.

Why do you need my supervisor's contact information? What if I don't have a supervisor?

We need a secondary contact person in case we have questions and the primary contact person is unavailable. A supervisor contact is preferred, but if there is no supervisor please provide information for someone else we can refer to with questions in the event we cannot reach the primary contact person.

What are ownership codes and what do they mean?

Ownership codes are related to a category of respondent, and are used to analyze the data.

A= Municipal Marketing Authority: Voted into existence by the residents of a municipality and given authority for creation by the state government. They are nonprofit organizations.
B=Behind the Meter Provider: entities that directly supply electricity to an end-use customer site without a distribution provider involved
C= Cooperative: Member owned organizations.
D= Non-Utility DSM Administrator: Only involved with Demand-Side Management activities.
F= Federal: Government agencies with the authority to deliver energy to end-use customers.
I= Investor owned Utilities: entities that are privately owned and provide a public service.
M= Municipal: Entities that are organized under authority of state statue to provide a public service to residents of that area.
P= Political Subdivision: Also called "public utility district." Independent of city or county government voted into existence by a majority of the residents of any given area for the specific purpose of providing the utility service to the voters. State laws provide for the formation of such districts.
R= Retail Power Marketer: Entities that market power to retail customers in restructured markets.
S= State: Entities that own or operate facilities or provide a public service.
T= Transmission: Entities that provide bulk power services over high voltage transmission wires.
W= Wholesale Power Marketer: Entities that buy and sell power in the wholesale market
Q= Independent Power Producer or Qualifying Facility: these are entities that own power plants and sell their power into the wholesale market.


Schedule 2A

I'm getting an error that the highest hourly electrical peak system demand is much different than the previous year, but I believe it's correct.

First, make sure you are reporting the summer and winter peaks in MW. 1 MW = 1,000 kW. The previous year's peaks are shown to the right, for easy comparison. Summer accounts for the months of May through October, and winter is considered November through April. The maximum hourly load for each season should be taken from the 60-minute period during which the demand is the greatest.

Sometimes extreme weather events can cause drastic fluctuations in the year-over-year peaks. If this is the case, explain in the override comments.

An error appeared in the log saying that my DSM peak demand savings are too high when compared to the summer/winter peaks, how do I address this?

Explain in the override comments what sort of mechanism you have for controlling load, and what type of customers they are so we can get a better idea of how your setup works. While the peak savings can sometimes have a Potential greater than the summer or winter peak, the Actual savings shouldn't be greater than either peak (see the schedule 6B FAQ below for guidance on how to report the potential/actual peak savings).


Schedule 2B

I filled out each line item to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot proceed as line 10 (total sources) and line 16 (total disposition) do not match. What am I doing wrong?

We need to know where the electricity comes from, as well as where it all goes. Therefore the lines need to match in order to ensure all MWH's are accounted for. A commonly incorrect field is Line 15, Total Energy Losses, which must be entered as a positive number. This line item encompasses the electricity which has been lost from transmission, distribution, or is otherwise unaccounted for. Also, line 11 (Sales to Ultimate Customers) must equal the total sales reported on schedules 4A, 4B, and 4D.


Schedule 3A

Where do I find information about circuits?

You need only report on this schedule if you own distribution lines, and then report only those circuits with a voltage of 35 kV or below. This data can be gathered from the personnel in control of the wires (distribution engineer, head linesman, etc.). As this information does not change very often, it will roll over to the following year's form, at which time you need only check for accuracy.

How can you verify whether or not time clock controlled switched capacitors would meet the criteria for Voltage/VAR Optimization (VVO)?

If the time-controlled capacitors can respond in real-time to conditions on the grid, then we would characterize it as contributing to VVO. If they are simply switching based on a timer (without knowledge of grid conditions), then it should count as contributing to VVO.


Schedule 3B/3C

If I compute SAIDI/SAIFI data via both means described, do I report on schedule 3B or 3C?

The IEEE standard method is preferred, so if you use both methods report only on schedule 3B.

This is new to me; does EIA have guidance on how to calculate this data?

You need only report this data if you currently calculate it already, as we do not offer the training/software required to gather these figures. To learn more about the IEEE 1366 standards, you may reach their website.

I am not IEEE compliant and my software reports SAIDI values in hours? Does EIA have a preference?

Whether your utility follows IEEE standards or not, EIA would like you to report SAIDI values in minutes and not hours. If your values are automatically reported in hours, please multiply the product by 60 in order to convert the answer to minutes.

Schedules 3B & 3C ask "At what voltage do you distinguish the distribution system from the supply system". How do I find out the answer to this question?

You should contact your manager or engineer of distribution wires, as they may be able to tell you. EIA has observed that most distribution systems are differentiated from supply at the 60kV or less - most utilities being around the 14.7 kV or 34.5 kV mark.

We currently calculate the SAIDI including major event days, and do not calculate a SAIDI excluding major event days, or a SAIDI including major event days minus loss of supply; what should I enter for those categories?

EIA only wants you to provide the information that you calculate and can verify: if your organization cannot ascertain that data, then please omit it from Schedules 3B or 3C.

Do I include inactive accounts within this data?

If reporting on schedule 3B using the IEEE standard, you should not include inactive accounts, therefore only using the data from current metered customers. Schedule 3C, which does not follow the IEEE standard, can include inactive accounts or not, depending on how you collect and calculate the data.


Schedule 4

How do I add an additional state?

Click within the state box and then click the 'Insert Record' button at the top.

I don't know what Balancing Authority we have, how do I find out?

Most should be prefilled, but if not you may contact a staff member for guidance. Balancing authority is an entity that is responsible for certain operations of the grid. When a utility is serving electric customers they are doing so within some balancing authority's area. Balancing authorities are part of NERC reliability initiatives. Historically this function was done by the Control Area Operator and was usually the distribution company that owned the wires. Below are the EIA and the NERC definitions of Balancing Authority:

  • EIA Definition - Balancing authority (electric) that integrates resource plans ahead of time; maintains load-interchange-generation balance within a specified area; supports interconnection frequency in real time.
  • NERC Definition -The responsible entity that integrates resource plans ahead of time; maintains load-interchange-generation balance within a Balance Authority Area; supports interconnection frequency in real time.

Do I need to split up my data via state AND balancing authority?

New to data collection year 2013 is the requirement to split up the data via state as well as Balancing Authority. Some states can have more than one balancing authority and vice versa. When adding a new state or BA online, the state must be entered first via the dropdown menu then the BA must also be selected.

How do I split up the customer classes?

You may view examples of each customer class on the sector chart from the survey instructions. EIA classifies customers based on their business type (NAIC classification), as opposed to amount of load.

For apartment buildings, do I count each resident as one Residential customer or the whole apartment building as one Commercial customer?

It depends on who gets billed. If each resident receives their own bill, they each get counted as a Residential customer. If the apartment building is billed one cumulative invoice, then report that as one Commercial customer.

When reporting Transportation customers, for example a metro system, do I count each station as a customer?

No - The system as a whole should be counted as one customer. Each different type of transportation system counts as one, so therefore most utilities do not have more than a few transportation customers.

How do I report the number of customers?

Collect each month's end customer count, and report the average of the 12 end-of-month customer counts.

What does it mean to report the Revenue in "thousand dollars to the nearest 0.1?"

Revenue should be reported in thousand dollar increments, allowing for one decimal place. For example, if the total Revenue is $100,580.00 then it should be reported as 100.6 on the form.

On Schedule 4A there is a question that asks "Are your rates decoupled? What is meant by this?"

Decoupling as it applies to utilities is defined as breaking the traditional link between a company's rates and earnings. For example, a decoupling mechanism allows the utility to defer fixed distribution costs that the utility fails to recoup through its volumetric based charges (rates.) The utility is then allowed to recover the deferred costs associated with the unrecovered fixed costs through a surcharge mechanism over some period of time.

Only some of our rates are decoupled. Do I check 'YES' or 'NO' for that question on schedule 4A?

There are multiple kinds of decoupled rates. If any of your rates are decoupled you should answer 'YES.'


Schedule 6A

If I use another company to run our Energy Efficiency programs but they are not listed in the instructions amongst those currently recognized to report as such, do I still need to enter the data?

Yes. If you use a non-utility DSM Administrator to administer your Energy Efficiency programs and they're not on the list, you must report the data yourself. However, you may request that they be added for the next reporting year by entering comments in the footnotes section of the form.

What is the difference between Annual and Life Cycle savings?

Reporting Year Incremental denotes either Savings or Cost that are related to new customers in the reporting year. EIA 861 defines a 'new customer' as a participant that joined an existing program in the reporting year OR is a participant in a program that was newly initiated in the reporting year. For instance, if Jane Doe just joined an appliance rebate program in 2014 (the reporting year), then Jane would be considered new. In subsequent years, Jane would not be a new customer and should not be counted.

Incremental Life Cycle refers to Savings or Costs attributed to new customers over the entire span of their program participation. Every measure (or program) has a useful life, meaning there is an estimated amount of time where a measure is considered to be effective. For instance, an LED light bulb may last for 7 years, so the life cycle for a new participant would be seven years; where as an insulation program may have savings for 15 years or more and would have a corresponding Life Cycle of 15 years.

In the example below Jane Doe just participated in the appliance rebate program this year. This is how EIA would expect her information to be reported:

Reporting Year Incremental Savings: 200 kWh's (the amount of electricity savings from switching her water heater)

Reporting Year Incremental Costs: $300 (the amount of rebate money given to Jane [a cost to the utility])

Incremental Life Cycle Savings: 2,000 kWh's (the new water heater has a life of 10 years, so the assumption is a savings of 200 kWh's for every year [10 years])

Incremental Life Cycle Costs: $300 (even though the new water heater has a life of 10 years, the rebate was a one-time expense given out in the first year; the Reporting Year and Life Cycle costs will be the same.)

What are some examples of the costs that go into an Energy Efficiency program besides customer incentives?

Any cost directly attributed to the implementation or functioning of an Energy Efficiency program can be counted as 'other costs.' These can include staff compensation, computer hardware/software purchases for your program staff, office rents to house program staff if separate from company site, administrative costs, marketing materials, monitoring and evaluation, and television commercials for consumer awareness.

Where can I find information about calculating the life cycle of an energy efficiency product?

The EIA does not specify, as those measures are typically put into place by each utility as part of product/plan implementation, and can vary. You may view the Energy Star website which has many energy efficient products to get an idea.


Schedule 6B

Is "Demand Response" the same as "Load Management?"

Yes. In previous years the survey described it as "Load Management" but has since changed it to the more industry-wide used term, "Demand Response."

What is the difference between 'Potential' and 'Actual' peak demand savings?

Potential peak demand savings is the most possible load reduction that could be called down during the hour of the annual system peak. Actual peak demand savings is the load reduction which was actually achieved during this time. Therefore, the potential savings will always be greater than or equal to the actual savings.

What are grid-interactive water heaters?

EIA has received from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE/EERE) a definition for "grid-interactive water heaters: "A grid interactive water heater is an electric storage water heater that is capable of being controlled remotely by a third party (usually an electricity service provider) that provides the third party the ability to control the operation of the unit by storing thermal energy during off-peak times." However, we have been informed by DOE/EERE that this definition is not finalized. EIA will modify the instructions to conform with the final definition once it is available. If your company has added any of these grid-interactive water heaters as part of your Demand Response program, you need only enter how many were added during the reporting year.


Schedule 6C

Should inactive participants of dynamic pricing programs be reported?

Report all active customers: those that are receiving energy and are billed accordingly, whether or not they choose to engage in options under the plan in which they've enrolled.

If a customer is enrolled in more than one dynamic pricing program, do we count them in each category?

Yes. Line 1 is for the total number of customers in each sector that are enrolled in any dynamic pricing program, and lines 2-6 are to identify which type of programs customers are enrolled; check all that apply.


Schedule 6D

Do we report all installed meters, or the number of installed meters that were active?

Only enter the number of meters of each type which were active as such during the reporting year. You may notate the actual total, including inactive installed meters, in the footnotes section.

We don't have advanced metering. Do we have to enter data on this schedule?

Yes. A question new to data year 2013, is the number of "non AMR/AMI meters" which refers to standard electric meters. All customers will have one of these three types of meters.

Regarding AMR meters, does the DOE only want the company to provide a count of those meters that transmit data one-way AND are read via drive-by vans? What if a meter reader walks by using a hand held reader?

Meters queried via hand held readers would be included in the count.

What is the difference between each type of meter?

Standard meters, or Glass meters, are the old meter technology which requires readings to be taken manually by electric company personnel, having to go to the consumer's property and walk up to the physical meter itself to view the meter and note readings.

AMR meters transmit usage information one way, from the customer to the utility. Meter readings can be taken remotely, by means such as hand-held readers, drive-by vans, and network communication.

AMI meters transmit data two ways, between the customer and utility. Usage data is recorded by the meter at least once hourly and is transmitted to the utility at least once daily. In addition, data may be made available to the customers via a number of different services (i.e. website) and at different time intervals.

If AMI meters are installed but the data is not provided to the customer daily, do we count them as AMR?

As long as the meters record the data at least hourly, and transmit it to the utility at least daily, they count as AMI. Additionally, the data must be made available to customers at reasonable intervals, or be readily accessible to customers, such as via a website.

If all of our AMI meters also have the HAN gateway enabled, do we just list the number of meters on the HAN gateway enabled line or do we put the same number on both lines?

Enter the number of AMI meters you have, and of that number, enter how many have the HAN gateway enabled below it. Therefore, if you have a number of HAN enabled meters, your AMI count should be equal to or greater than that.

What is the difference is between Question 3 (# of AMI meters with HAN gateway enabled) and Question 7 (# of customers able to access daily energy usage through a webportal or other electronic means). Should the count of HAN meters be included in the number for question 7?

"HAN gateway enabled" (Question 3) is a subset of "access to energy usage" (Question 7) since some customers can access their data online via other means other than via the HAN. Please note that Question 7 asks for the number of customers while Question 3 focuses on the number of meters: some customers may have more than one meter on premises.

I don't know the Energy Served Through AMI. Can I leave that line blank?

If you list AMI meters, you must also list the energy served through AMI. If you don't know the precise amount, please use your best estimate.

What is direct load control?

This capability allows the energy company to curtail a customer's consumption if deemed necessary.


Schedule 7A

Do we report Net Metering customers with whom we have only a Power Purchase Agreement?

No. For the purposes of this survey, Net Metering is defined as installations that are primarily used to offset a customer's own energy needs, and only selling electricity back to the utility (typically at retail rates) if the net metering application produces more electricity than the customer needs for their own use. Net metering customers are usually provided a "credit" that can be used to offset usage at another time period.

Do we only report Net Metering customers who put electricity back on the grid?

No. All customers having a net metering application should be reported, whether or not they produce enough electricity to sell back to the utility.

How do we figure out the installed net metering capacity?

The 'installed net metering capacity' is the sum of capacities of all customers within the specified group. For example, if you have 5 Residential Photovoltaic customers who each have an installed capacity of 0.01 MW (10 kW), then the Residential Photovoltaic installed net metering capacity should be reported as 0.05 MW (50 kW). Remember to report in MW, up to 3 decimal places. The installed capacity should be detailed in each customer's interconnection agreement, and should be reported as AC capable. Capacities should not exceed limits set up by each state, which can be found on the Database of State Incentive for Renewable and Efficiency's website.

What if the Installed Net Metering Capacity is too small to enter in MW, even with 3 decimal places?

In that case, enter the smallest amount possible (0.001 MW) and then add a footnote with the actual amount.

For the EIA-861, do we report the net metering customer count as a monthly average, like on other schedules?

No. For Net Metering, use the December customer count.

What do you mean by "electric energy sold back to the utility?"

If a customer's net metering installation produces more electricity than they require for their own energy needs, the excess may be sold back to the utility, or a credit provided based on their contract. The excess electricity should be entered as MWH. Often there will be no energy sold back, and in that case either enter '0' or leave this line item blank on the survey. This data point is only required to be reported if available.

If a single customer has both photovoltaic and wind technologies, should this be considered as two customers?

Yes. The two generating types would be counted as two customers, reported as one for each installed technology on the survey.

What renewable technologies, other than Photovoltaic and Wind, can be eligible for net metering?

'Other' can include Solar Thermal Electric, Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Landfill Gas, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Fuel Cells, Municipal Solid Waste, Biogas, Small Hydroelectric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, and Ocean Thermal, but should be based on the state program eligibility.

We have a virtual net metered installation in a residential development: should be counted as Commercial since it's not 'owned' by a specific resident?

How to classify this installation depends on who owns and receives benefits from the generation stemming from the unit. If the management company for the development owns the units and keeps all of the credits/revenue from the generation, then it should be classified as Commercial. If the residents receive the benefits (generation and/or credits) from the unit - and not the management company - then it should be classified as Residential.

Please note that if you classify the installation as Residential, then under 'Customers' you should list how many households the installations serves.


Schedule 7B

How do I know when I should report generation on the EIA-860 vs. EIA-861?

Facilities with a generation capacity of 1 MW (1,000 kW) or greater, which are grid-connected, should be reported on the EIA-860 form. Therefore, facilities with a generation capacity of less than 1 MW should be reported on the EIA-861 form.

What is the difference between net metering (schedule 7A) and distributed generation (schedule 7B)?

The determination comes with the customer contract; if an agreement is in place for the customer to use the generator to offset their own energy needs, with the capability to sell back or receive credit for any excess energy produced, then it is considered net metering (7A). If there is generation that is not net metered, or is not integrated with the customer load (and less than 1 MW capacity), then it should be reported as distributed/dispersed generation (7B).


Error Log

I believe the data I've entered is correct, but I'm still getting error messages.

'The most common mistake is entering data in the wrong units. The unit of energy you should use is the MW (Megawatt) and MWh (Megawatthour). You should convert to this unit instead of entering data using the kW (kilowatt) or kWh (kilowatt hour). 1 MWh = 1,000 kWh. To convert from kW to MW, divide by 1,000. You can find power conversion calculators on the internet, such as RapidTables.com - power unit conversion calculator.

Revenue should be reported in thousands of dollars. For example, if the total Revenue is $175,841.00 then it should be reported as 175.8 on the form.

You should always have a copy of the previous year's form handy, which will aid in comparing year over year data.

What do I put for an override comment?

Your comments should explain WHY the data differs in the manner outlined in each error message. Many times there is a reasonable explanation for why data is outside of the set criteria, and as long as it is detailed thoroughly there likely will be no further questions. "Data is correct" is not an acceptable answer and you will be contacted for further explanation.

What if there were errors with the previous year's data?

If this is the case, please notate corrections for that year in your override comments or footnotes to avoid further questioning.