The increasing importance of system reliability and resilience is changing the way distribution systems are planned and operated. To achieve a distribution system self-healing against power outages, emerging technologies and devices, such as remote-controlled switches (RCSs) and smart meters, are being deployed. The higher level of automation is transforming traditional distribution systems into the smart distribution systems (SDSs) of the future. The availability of data and remote control capability in SDSs provides distribution operators with an opportunity to optimize system operation and control. In this paper, the development of SDSs and resulting benefits of enhanced system capabilities are discussed. A comprehensive survey is conducted on the state-of-the-art applications of RCSs and smart meters in SDSs. Specifically, a new method, called Temporal Causal Diagram (TCD), is used to incorporate outage notifications from smart meters for enhanced outage management. To fully utilize the fast operation of RCSs, the spanning tree search algorithm is used to develop service restoration strategies. Optimal placement of RCSs and the resulting enhancement of system reliability are discussed. Distribution system resilience with respect to extreme events is presented. Test cases are used to demonstrate the benefit of SDSs. Active management of distributed generators (DGs) is introduced. Future research in a smart distribution environment is proposed.
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