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This paper proposes a new differential evolution optimization (DE) strategy namely, Self-Realized Differential Evolution (SRDE) for solving the economic dispatch (ED) problem with non-smooth cost functions in power systems. The proposed SRDE is in the structure of differential evolution owning new mutation operation and selection mechanism. An effective constraint handling method is presented in the suggested stochastic search technique. The proposed approach has been examined and tested with the numerical results of ED problems with forty-generation units including ramp rate limits, prohibited operating zones and valve-point loading effects also ten-generation units with multiple fuel options. The results of the proposed technique are compared with that of other techniques reported in the literature. For both the cases, the proposed algorithm outperforms the solution reported for the existing algorithms. In addition, the promising results show the robustness, fast convergence and efficiency of the proposed technique.