Over the past several years, interest in large-scale control of peak energy demand and total consumption has increased. While motivated by a number of factors, this interest has primarily been spurred on the demand side by the increasing cost of energy and, on the supply side by the limited ability of utilities to build sufficient electricity generation capacity to meet unrestrained future demand. To address peak electricity use Demand Response (DR) systems are being proposed to motivate reductions in electricity use through the use of price incentives. DR systems are also be design to shift or curtail energy demand at critical times when the generation, transmission, and distribution systems (i.e. the "grid") are threatened with instabilities. To be effectively deployed on a large-scale, these proposed DR systems need to be automated. Automation will require robust and efficient data communications infrastructures across geographically dispersed markets. The present availability of widespread Internet connectivity and inexpensive, reliable computing hardware combined with the growing confidence in the capabilities of distributed, application-level communications protocols suggests that now is the time for designing and deploying practical systems.