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The energy efficiency of belt conveyor systems can be improved at equipment or operational levels. In literature, variable speed control is proposed as an effective way to improve operation efficiency of belt conveyors. However, the current strategies most focus on lower control loops without considerations at the system level. In this paper, an optimal scheduling is proposed to improve the energy efficiency of belt conveyor systems at the operational level, where time-of-use (TOU) tariff, ramp rate of belt speed and other system constraints are considered. A coal conveying system in a coal-fired power plant is taken as a case study, where great savings of both energy cost and energy consumption through the optimal scheduling are achieved.