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This paper presents an approach for reconfiguration and optimal placement and sizing of fixed and automatic capacitors banks in radial distribution systems for the purpose of minimizing real power losses and enhancing the voltage profile. A modified, dedicated Chu and Beasley based genetic algorithm (CBGA) approach has been successfully developed and implemented. It demands low computational effort and is able to find good quality configurations. The implementation problems related to the crossover operation have been solved using a minimal spanning tree algorithm (Kruskal). Simulation results for a radial 69-bus and a radial, realistic 135-bus systems are presented and commented.