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Energy storage systems (ESSs) will play a vital role in the future electric power grid with a significant amount of intermittent renewable generation. However, the question of how to operate ESSs in an optimal way remains open. This paper concentrates on the real-time control of energy storage devices for various storage applications at both the transmission and distribution levels. After a brief introduction into the available energy storage technologies, control algorithms based on multi-step optimization for multiple ESS applications are presented. Simulation results for two applications (generation/transmission deferral and integration of renewable generation) validate the proposed ESS control approaches.