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IEC 61850 was proposed as a standard protocol for communications within the substation. In its current edition, the standard does not cover communications outside the substation, either with the control center or with other substations, for instance for remote protection. However, during the recent years, there has been a general belief that some features of the standard can be efficiently utilized for applications outside the substation as well. With the advent of new monitoring and control technologies the idea of power system automation at the distribution system and feeder level is crossing new boundaries. In such applications, accessing the accurate data is a necessity. With its future-proof object oriented structure, IEC 61850 can provide comprehensive and accurate information models for various components of distribution automation systems. This paper provides some examples on how the standard can be employed for this purpose, and what measures need to be taken to enable it to efficiently respond to some of the emerging technologies in distribution automation systems.