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A rule-based expert system for distribution planning is proposed in this paper. By combining heuristic rules with mathematical algorithms, the proposed expert system is capable of optimizing the locations of substations and the conductor layout. A genetic algorithm approach is employed to determine the optimal sites of new substations. To determine the optimal conductor layout, a heuristic algorithm is proposed, which considers both the capital expenditure and the cost associated with power losses. The heuristic rules required in this expert system are also identified and reported in this paper. The expert system has been tested to be applicable and efficient.