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This paper presents a design technique for an online adaptive controller for the stabilizer loop of a generating unit. The adaptive controller is to operate on line and in real time to improve the generating unit speed transients through the voltage regulator input. The controller design is based on the separation of the adaptive control function into two tasks; one for system identification and another for control. The identification technique used for this controller is recursive and based on the method of least squares. The control task uses a time optimal control algorithm that seeks a deadbeat system response. Results are presented which show the effectiveness of the proposed controller on a generating unit simulated by a fifth order nonlinear model.