It wasn’t that long ago that everybody had cumulative electric meters. Thomas Edison invented cumulative meters at the dawn of electric utility service, way back in 1879. Though improved in the century-plus since, a meter still measured how many kilowatt-hours in total a home took since the meter was installed. Meter readers — remember them — dodging your dog and debris would enter your yard and record the total as of that day. Subtract that total from last month’s number and ta-da, the utility could calculate your monthly bill.
When it opened, it was the world’s largest power plant. Its capacity was 108 megawatts.
It was 1911 when Norsk Hydro put into service the Vemork hydro plant in central Norway. In the 1930s much of the power that Vemork produced went to the only factory making heavy water. This was an obscure industrial product until the late thirties, when physicists discovered heavy water was a key to developing an atomic bomb.
From the August 7, 1930 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly, a relevant opinion on the value of regulation. In that issue, editor Henry Spurr, my predecessor, said this:
“All things considered, I think the Commissions have functioned remarkably well as originally intended.