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Optimal reactive power dispatch (ORPD) is a key instrument to achieve secure and economic operation of power systems. Due to complex characteristics of ORPD, heuristic optimization has become an effective solver. A novel heuristic optimization algorithm namely the Mean-Variance Mapping Optimization (MVMO) is proposed to handle the ORPD problem. The concept, mechanism and implementation of MVMO are discussed in this paper. Based on the IEEE 57- and 118- bus systems, MVMO is compared with some basic and enhanced evolutionary algorithms. Simulation results show that MVMO is an excellent algorithm for ORPD and should deserve more attention. The superiority to the other algorithms is very pronounced in the IEEE 118-test case.