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An open-source distribution system simulator has been developed for distributed resource planning, harmonic studies, neutral-earth voltage studies, volt-var control studies, and other special applications. The software includes several means of interfacing user code, including compiled dynamic link library, COM automation, and text scripting. Co-simulation interfaces are under development for interfacing with proprietary vendor-supplied models, and communication system overlays. The simulator, called OpenDSS, has been used to conduct several smart grid research projects, including advanced automation, electric vehicle penetration, state estimation, and green circuits. The software architecture and solution methods are described, in the effort to foster more collaborative research.