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Restructuring of power system stresses the need for economic and reliable generation of power. Therefore generating units should be committed considering fuel cost and reliability level of the system. This necessitates the need for multi-objectives to be met in a unit commitment problem (UCP). Since the above objectives are conflicting in nature, a novel methodology employing optimal deviation based firefly algorithm tuned fuzzy membership function is applied to multi-objective unit commitment problem (MOUCP). The ON/OFF status of the generating units is obtained by binary coded FF whereas the sub-problem economic dispatch (ED) is obtained by real coded FF. Here the conflicting functions are formulated as a single objective function using fuzzy weighted optimal deviation. The fuzzy membership design variables are tuned using real coded FF; thereby the requirement of expertise for setting these variables are eliminated. The proposed methodology is validated on 100-unit system, IEEE RTS 24-bus system, IEEE 118-bus system and a practical Taiwan Power (Taipower) 38-unit system over a 24-h period. Effective strategy on scheduling spinning reserve is demonstrated by comparing its performance with other methods reported in the literature.