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The “smart grid” refers to various efforts to modernize the power grid through the application of alternate sources of energy and intelligent devices. The present national interest in smart grid applications has generated many questions concerning the role of distribution engineering in the future. What features do utility engineers need in distribution system analysis tools to support the future smart grid? This paper will discuss some relevant Electric Power Research Institute research in this area that focuses on selected issues related to smart grid analysis relevant to rural utilities. The essential characteristics of distribution system analysis tools to support analysis of these issues are discussed.