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The effectiveness of an active power filter depends basically on three characteristics: (a) the modulation method used; (b) the design characteristics of the PWM modulator; and (c) the method implemented to generate the reference template. For the last characteristic there are many methods, most of them complicated and hence difficult to implement and adjust. In this paper, a new method, which has simplicity at its main characteristic, is presented. The method is based on "sample and hold" circuits, synchronized with the peak value of the phase-to-neutral mains voltage. This method is useful for shunt active power filters and is capable to eliminate harmonics, compensate power factor, and correct unbalance problems simultaneously. It also has the ability to slow-down sudden transient changes in the load. Experimental results, with the reference template obtained with the method, are presented in the paper.