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This paper presents an approach towards substation automation integration tools design. In the light of recent standardization, namely IEC 61850, object-oriented information modelling will play an important role in the design of automation systems in the near future. Substation automation, as well as other utility automation domains, requires specific design engineering tools to cope with increasingly demanding budget, resource and time requirements in an engineering domain where information complexity and size are growing. The shift towards object-orientation and model-driven design will facilitate the design of automation systems and will require handling of domain, system and device models in an integrated computer-aided engineering environment. A core architecture based on the OMG meta-modelling framework is proposed, in order to establish a flexible and scalable integrated design environment. This proposal is the outcome of a preliminary study on the implementation of system engineering tools. This paper introduces the application domain, describes the requirements for a tool environment and proposes a meta-modelling architecture as a tool design guideline.