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The advent of advanced sensor technology and the breakthroughs in telecommunication open up several new possibilities for demand-side management. More recently, there has been greater interest from utilities as well as system operators in utilizing load as a system resource through the application of new technologies. With the wider application of demand-side management, there is an increasing emphasis on control of loads with minimum disruption. This paper develops a new framework for designing as well as assessing such an advanced direct load control program with the objective of minimizing end-user discomfort and is formulated as an optimization problem. With a fairly general setup for demand-side management, a simulation-based framework is developed for the stochastic optimization problem. Next, using this framework, insights into the effect of different parameters and constraints in the model on load control are developed.