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In light of current worldwide efforts to achieve energy efficiency, intensify usage of renewable energy sources, and reduce CO2 emissions, current electricity networks face many challenges, stemming from increasing demand for electrical energy, as well as variable and distributed production. Hence, an evolution to so-called smart grids is inevitable. The smart grid is a complex end-to-end system, composed of multiple interconnected power subsystems, interrelated to each other through diverse protocols with additional layers of technology (energy, communications, control/automation, and IT). Developing the smart grid thus has become an urgent global priority, as its economic, environmental, and societal benefit will be enjoyed by generations to come. The feature topic is to address the ultimate technologies required for underlying ICT architectures, monitoring and management improvements for smart grid systems, and highlighting these to the IEEE Communications Magazine readership. Eight papers that cover broadly the selected areas were kept for publication from 26 evaluated, taking into account the high-quality research and practical initiatives in the field.