25 Years: A story of evolution – 1996-2000

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Join us on a walk through the archives as we document the changes and milestones in the evolution of the smart energy sector over the past 25 years.

Part 2: 2001-2005
Part 3: 2006-2010
Part 4: 2011-2015
Part 5: 2016-2021

The story of Smart Energy International’s evolution mirrors that of the dynamic sector we seek to serve. Like many of our partners, our journey began in metering, the cornerstone of the smart grid. As meters grew smarter, so did the sector, and our offering developed in parallel.

Today, our focus extends well beyond the once-niche focus of Metering International with the impact of the energy transition on grids and consumers around the world taking centre stage.

The energy transition has different characteristics in every region, yet the overarching story is the same: how we harness, trade, deploy and use energy is changing radically and rapidly. And it will continue to change.

1996

Issue 1/1996
  • Metering International is launched in an era of utility privatisation and unbundling around the world, with the UK and Australia in our spotlight
  • Europe’s First Energy Package obliges each member state to designate a TSO and one or more DSOs
  • California becomes the first US state to deregulate its energy utilities
  • The term “Information Superhighway” enters the utility space, referring to digital communication systems and networks. It is associated with later US VP Al Gore.
  • Universal Serial Bus (USB) is created

1997

Issue 2/1997
  • Wi-Fi becomes available publicly.
  • The launch of the Device Language Message Specification (DLMS) standards signals the important trend for the exchange of data and control information between devices. It is set to revolutionise the metering industry.
  • In Japan, the Kyoto Protocol is signed and the world’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius, is launched
  • The STS Association is founded to ensure interoperability between multi-vendor prepayment systems.

1998

Issue 4/1998
  • Utility deregulation is taking place quite rapidly in some European countries and American states but quite slowly in others. Many consumers are pressing for change on the grounds that their electricity bills are likely to be lower.
  • While using modems offering cost-effective remote meter reading is on the increase, offering cost effective solutions for utilities, Google opens workspace in a garage in California.
  • Metering, Billing/CRM Europe – an event which will evolve into European Utility Week and then, Enlit Europe – is launched
  • The Chinese Government unveils a $34 billion plan to improve the power distribution network, including a ‘one household, one meter’ – policy.
  • Siemens acquires Landis & Gyr, merged with its own metering business. The new Siemens Metering Division becomes the largest manufacturer of electricity meters worldwide.
  • The UK is the first country to allocate airwave space to utilities as the 184 MHz radio waveband is dedicated to automatic reading of electricity, gas and water meters.

1999

Issue 3/1999
  • Fears of Y2K bug fallout lead to major system upgrades throughout the global corporate and utility environment including handheld meter reading equipment.
  • Launched: first Windows software for meter test systems; first Blackberry mobile; Bluetooth 1.0
  • In the backdrop of the liberalisation of the utility market in UK the idea of allowing customers to use smart meters as a payment tool gathers momentum.

2000

Issue 3/2000
  • As itemised utility bills become available on the net, the LoveBug worm/virus infects2.5 million PCs and causes an estimated $8.7 billion in damage.
  • PLC comes of age making viable PLC solutions finally available for mass market applications, corresponding with standardisation for interoperability, the COSEM meter interface object model and a connection oriented protocol suite.
  • UK regulator OFFER becomes Ofgem
  • Japan’s power market is deregulated
  • GPS becomes available for civilian users