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A unified power-flow controller (UPFC) can enforce unnatural power flows in a transmission grid, to maximize the power flow while maintaining stability. Theoretically, active and reactive power flow can be controlled without overshoot or cross coupling. This paper develops direct power control, based on instantaneous power theory, to apply the full potential of the power converter. Simulation and experimental results of a full three-phase model with nonideal transformers, series multilevel converter, and load confirm minimal control delay, no overshoot nor cross coupling. A comparison with other controllers demonstrates better response under balanced and unbalanced conditions. Direct power control is a valuable control technique for a UPFC, and the presented controller can be used with any topology of voltage-source converters. In this paper, the direct power control is demonstrated in detail for a third-level neutral point clamped converter.