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The classical procedure for solving the economic dispatch problem in the presence of upper and lower limits on the generation levels may fail to lead to the constrained optimum generation schedule. In this paper a simple scheme suitable for real-time applications which resolves this drawback is presented. When transmission losses are neglected, the constrained optimum can be analytically computed based on a distance measure of the unconstrained optimum schedule to the violated limits. In the presence of transmission losses, the problem is first converted into an equivalent lossless case by a simple transformation which can then be solved by the proposed algorithm.