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The grid faces a number of challenges related to large-scale integration of intermittent distributed generation (DG) such as photovoltaics (PV). Power quality challenges include voltage regulation issues, flicker, and frequency volatility. Operational challenges include the need for extension of the command-and-control infrastructure to millions of devices anticipated on the low-voltage (service) side of the distribution network. This paper presents an advanced grid-tied inverter controls concept designed to address such challenges. This controls concept is based on reproducing favorable characteristics of traditional generators that result in load-following tendencies, and is accordingly dubbed Generator Emulation Controls (GEC). Traditional generators are analyzed with specific focus on such favorable characteristics as inertial dynamics and controlled impedance. Details of GEC are then presented, and its implementation is outlined based on the evolution of conventional grid-tied inverter controls. This is followed by an examination of the system impact of GEC-operated devices. GEC allows DG inverters to perform voltage regulation support, reactive power compensation, and fault ride-through. GEC also allows DG inverters to form scalable inverter-based microgrids, capable of operating in grid-tied mode or separating and supporting an islanded load. Simulation results are presented to examine the impact on voltage regulation and power losses across a distribution feeder. Two experimental test beds are used to demonstrate voltage regulation support, transient suppression, and microgridding capabilities.