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Optimization of energy consumption in future intelligent energy networks (or Smart Grids) will be based on grid-integrated near-real-time communications between various grid elements in generation, transmission, distribution and loads. This paper discusses some of the challenges and opportunities of communications research in the areas of smart grid and smart metering. In particular, we focus on some of the key communications challenges for realizing interoperable and future-proof smart grid/metering networks, smart grid security and privacy, and how some of the existing networking technologies can be applied to energy management. Finally, we also discuss the coordinated standardization efforts in Europe to harmonize communications standards and protocols.