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Many believe the electric power system is undergoing a profound change driven by a number of needs. There's the need for environmental compliance and energy conservation. We need better grid reliability while dealing with an aging infrastructure. And we need improved operational effi ciencies and customer service. The changes that are happening are particularly signifi cant for the electricity distribution grid, where "blind" and manual operations, along with the electromechanical components, will need to be transformed into a "smart grid." This transformation will be necessary to meet environmental targets, to accommodate a greater emphasis on demand response (DR), and to support plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) as well as distributed generation and storage capabilities. It is safe to say that these needs and changes present the power industry with the biggest challenge it has ever faced. On one hand, the transition to a smart grid has to be evolutionary to keep the lights on; on the other hand, the issues surrounding the smart grid are signifi cant enough to demand major changes in power systems operating philosophy.