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This paper describes the control design of a SMES power conditioning system for static reactive power compensation at distribution voltage levels. This system comprises a five-level voltage source inverter and a five-level two-quadrant chopper fed from SMES. Due to the high order nonlinear nature of multilevel converters, a multivariable control method is proposed to enable high-bandwidth control of power transfer to and from the SMES coil. Theoretical analysis of the controller design and the simulation results are presented.