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In a practical power system, automating all the substations is neither affordable nor economically justifiable. On the other hand, the trend for electric power subsidies elimination in some regions, such as Iran, aggravates this situation. To enhance the cost effectiveness of distribution automation system, this paper proposes a novel applicable qualitative-quantitative method using analytical hierarchical process (AHP) to find the optimum placement of remote terminal units (RTU). Entire attempt is to contribute all the crucial technical and practical parameters related to this problem in order to find the most reliable solution. Optimum number of RTUs is determined using the concepts of reliability cost/worth taking into account the total cost of customer interruption and investment cost of RTUs. The effectiveness of the proposed technique is validated on a real distribution feeder of Iran's power grid.