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Smart grids are described as a tool to pursue a diverse set of political and environmental energy goals. Visions of smart grid implementation differ around the world, and roles in smart grids are not yet clearly defined and assigned. This paper systematically explores smart grid visions and pilot projects in selected countries representing different electricity system types: centralized versus decentralized and full versus partial liberalization. We find that traditional system structure and problems shape smart grid models. The assignment of smart grid aspects to monopolistic and competitive sections and possibilities for bundling of functions are not uniform. Smart meters can be assigned to network companies or suppliers. These in turn can be integrated or unbundled. The organization of smart grids and the intertwined appearance of functions that are possibly competitive and those that are monopolistic raise further questions for regulation.