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This paper presents a new approach via a new evolutionary algorithm known as imperialistic competition algorithm (ICA) to solve the unit commitment (UC) problem. In ICA the initial population individuals (countries) are in two types: imperialists and colonies that all together form some empires. Imperialistic competitions among these empires converge to a state in which there exists only one empire. In the proposed ICA for the UC problem, the scheduling variables are coded as integers; therefore, the minimum up/down-time constraints can be handled directly. A new method for initializing the countries is proposed. To verify the performance of the proposed algorithm, it is applied to systems with number of generating units in range of 10 up to 100 in one-day scheduling period.