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In this paper an alternative method based on artificial neural networks is presented to determine harmonic components in the load current of a single-phase electric power system with nonlinear loads, whose parameters can vary so much in reason of the loads characteristic behaviors as because of the human intervention. The first six components in the load current are determined using the information contained in the time-varying waveforms. The effectiveness of this method is verified by using it in a single-phase active power filter with selective compensation of the current drained by an AC controller. The proposed method is compared with the fast Fourier transform.