The reservoirs (hydro plants) along the upper Yellow River are typical cascade reservoirs, with multiple objectives regarding flood control, ice control, water supply, power generation, and ecological security. The competition among these multiple objectives reflects the competition among various agencies with different interests. There has been a certain degree of conflict between ‘power scheduling’, which aims at obtaining greater power generation from the cascade reservoirs, and ‘water regulation’, which is currently being implemented. Questions of how to reasonably use the comprehensive regulation capacity of the cascade reservoirs, in order to relieve the conflicts among multiple objectives, and understand the nature of the competition between ‘power scheduling’ and ‘water regulation’, require urgent research and solutions. Based on an analysis of the current situation regarding water supply, electricity demand, flood control, ice control, and ecology, a multi-objective optimal operation model for the cascade reservoirs in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River has been constructed to reveal the relationships between power generation and other objectives. This study provides theoretical evidence for the informed operation of the cascade reservoirs and will be of great significance for coordinating the relationship between power generation and water regulation.