This paper addresses a novel method for the multi-objective economic load dispatch (ELD) problem. Power generation, spinning reserve costs and emission are considered in the objective function of the frequency ELD problem. The frequency deviation, minimum frequency limits and other practical constraints are also taken into account in this problem. It is a highly constrained multi-objective optimization problem that involves conflicting objectives with both equality and inequality constraints. In this paper, an elitist evolutionary multi-objective optimization algorithm based on the concept of epsilon-dominance, called epsilon-multi-objective genetic algorithm variable (epsilon v-MOGA), is proposed to solve the frequency ELD problem. In this study, the performance of the proposed epsilon v-MOGA algorithm is compared with the performance of other classic and intelligent algorithms. The proposed method is tested on 6, 10, 13 and 40 generating units, and the simulation results of four power systems demonstrate the advantages of the proposed method for reducing the cost function. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.