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To evaluate the effect of distribution automation, and to support distribution automation planning, a benefit evaluation method of distribution automation is proposed. The method makes clear the aim of evaluation and boundary conditions, applies failure mode and effect analysis and enumeration to calculate the automation effect. The method applies differential evolution algorithm to improve the applicability of the method. The method could quantitatively evaluate the result of distribution automation planning. Finally, application the method in a city, the results show that the proposed evaluation method is available, and could support for the implementation of distribution automation decision-making.