The simple truth to making the distribution grid smarter is to deploy communications and leverage advanced controls that are commonplace in substation automation, remedial action schemes, power management systems, and industrial closed-loop power automation. The untapped powerful information within the protection, control, and monitoring intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) can be leveraged. Dramatic distribution automation improvements are available by simply enabling and coordinating the unused automation capabilities of the numerous isolated IEDs already in service throughout the power system via distributed communications. These improvements automatically and rapidly isolate faults, restore power, monitor demand, and maintain and restore stability for more reliable generation, transmission, and delivery of electric power. By communicating with one another to accomplish tasks formerly done by humans or left undone, these IEDs observe the state of the power system, make educated decisions, and then take action to preserve the stability and performance of the grid. The smart grid is a collection of information sources and the automatic control systems that manage the delivery of power, understand the changes in demand, and react to it by managing demand response. This paper focuses on distribution-level protection and automation techniques illustrated with real-world case study examples.