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This paper makes an attempt to assess the benefits of replacing a conventional generator excitation system (AVR+PSS) with a nonlinear voltage regulator using the concepts of synchronizing and damping torque components in a single machine infinite bus (SMIB) system. In recent years, there has been considerable interest in designing nonlinear excitation controllers, which are expected to give better dynamic performance over a wider range of system and operating conditions. The performance of these controllers is often justified by simulation studies on few test cases which may not adequately represent the diverse operating conditions of a typical power system. The performance of two such nonlinear controllers which are designed based on feedback linearization and include automatic voltage regulation with good dynamic performance have been analyzed using an SMIB model. Linearizing the nonlinear control laws along with the SMIB system equations, a Heffron Phillip's type of a model has been derived. Concepts of synchronizing and damping torque components have been used to show that such controllers can impair the small signal stability under certain operating conditions. This paper shows the possibility of negative damping contribution due to nonlinear voltage regulators and gives a new insight on understanding the physical impact of complex nonlinear control laws on power system dynamics.