Output power fluctuation of high penetration of wind power causes demand and supply imbalance in electric power systems and results in frequency deviation if the fluctuation is not fully compensated by other regulable power plants. In Japan, some electric utilities have started to accept only the wind farms which disconnect and give up generating power during light-load periods with less adjustable reserve. Otherwise, wind farms are required to employ battery energy storage systems (BESSs) to charge the generated power during the light-load periods. Instead of these uneconomical solutions, this paper proposes autonomous frequency regulation by controllable loads such as electric water heaters (EWHs). In the paper, the acceptable increase of wind power generation by the proposed load control has been evaluated quantitatively in the power system of the Hokkaido Island in Japan. The result indicates that the acceptable increase of wind power generation goes from 250 to 675 MW by applying the proposed autonomous frequency regulation on all EWHs, and the total cost to implement the autonomous frequency regulation on the EWHs is around 1/26 compared with a solution using BESSs. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.