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The electrical distribution system will be undergoing a major evolution over the next decade. The increasing use of renew able generation, the implementation of electric vehicle charging, the installation of energy storage devices, and changes in the character of customer loads will alter the way the distribution system is designed and controlled. Increased attention needs to be paid to securing the communication systems that monitor and control the smart distribution system as well. Interoperability and the use of standards are fundamental principles that will give the utility industry the flexibility to adapt to changing grid requirements while stimulating vendor competition, fostering innovation, and realizing lower costs. The workforce needs to be trained so that all of these new technologies can be implemented smoothly. New technologies are being developed at a rapid pace. Projects such as the Circuit of the Future and the Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration are important test beds that allow rigorous technology evaluation in a real-world environment. These new technologies promise to make the electric distribution system more efficient and reliable. Planning for these advanced smart grid systems needs to be done now, before all of the new generation and load devices are connected to the grid. Because utility planning is typically based on rate case cycles spanning several years (three years in California), steps need to be taken now to ensure funds are available for smart grid system improvements when they are needed.