I stumbled across the first MetrixND newsletter today. In July 1998, Regional Economic Research (RER) was preparing users for the MetrixND 1.2 release, setting up a MetrixND training class and forming a user’s group.

In many ways, life is the same today as it was in 1998. I still go to work, drink coffee in the morning, and help companies with their forecasting needs. Even the average household consumption looks similar. Between 1997 and 2012, the Energy Information Administration estimates that average use rose only 6% over 15 years based on the Residential Energy Consumption Surveys.

But, “sameness” is simply an illusion. As I look around, I can see toddlers grown into college students, clients retiring, and Itron acquired RER in 2002. Within my home, I’ve moved from no computers, to desktop computers, to laptop computers, to tablets. My television set is larger and flatter. A few years ago, I even replaced my old water heater with a new efficient one after a very wet incident. Between 1998 and 2012, Itron estimates that annual electric usage is for central air conditioning is lower by about 18%, refrigeration is down by 20%, and lighting is reduced by 19%.

As we forecast, it’s easy to project the sameness of the past into the future. Assuming that 1998 is just like today misses the subtle changes in technologies, end-uses, and efficiency gains. Incorporating these impacts sharpens our projections, adds causality into our models, and recognizes the realities of our world.

While drinking my coffee this morning, I am nostalgic over the MetrixND newsletter. But, today is not 1998. MetrixND 1.2 has been upgraded to MetrixND 5.3. The single MetrixND training class has blossomed into a full curriculum of forecast training classes in the U.S. and abroad. The first MetrixND users group has been transformed into the Energy Forecasting Group and Itron Utility Week Conferences plus user meetings in Europe and Australia. And, the printed, mailed newsletter is now an electronic blog.