Abstract In this paper, a multivariable model based predictive control (MPC) is proposed for the solution of load frequency control (LFC) in a multi-area interconnected power system. The proposed controller is designed to consider time delay, generation rate constraint and multivariable nature of the LFC system, simultaneously. A new formulation of the MPC is presented to compensate time delay. The generation rate constraint is considered by employing a constrained MPC and economic allocation of the generation is further guaranteed by an innovative modification in the predictive control objective function. The effectiveness of proposed scheme is verified through time-based simulations on the standard 39-bus test system and the responses are then compared with the proportional-integral controller. The evaluation of the results reveals that the proposed control scheme offers satisfactory performance with fast responses.