Aiming at the isolated hydroelectric power plant (HPP) with surge tank, this paper studies the regulation quality for frequency response of turbine regulating system under load disturbance. Firstly, the complete mathematical model of turbine regulating system is established and a fifth order frequency response under step load disturbance is derived. Then, the method of primary order reduction and secondary order reduction, for this complete fifth order system of frequency response, is proposed based on dominant poles. By this method, the complete fifth order system is solved and the regulation quality for frequency response is studied. The results indicate that the complete fifth order system always has a pair of dominant conjugate complex poles and three non-dominant poles. The primary fourth order equivalent system, which is obtained by primary order reduction, keeps the dominant poles almost unchanged, therefore it can represent and replace the complete fifth order system and it is obviously superior to other fourth order systems. The primary fourth order equivalent system is superimposed by two second-order subsystems, one of them is corresponding to two non-dominant real poles (i.e. head wave) and the other one is corresponding to a pair of dominant conjugate complex poles (i.e. tail wave), respectively. In the fluctuation process of frequency response, head wave decays very fast and works mainly in the beginning period while tail wave decays very slowly, fluctuates periodically and works throughout the period. The secondary order reduction of complete fifth order system can be conducted by using the second order system of tail wave, which is the main body of frequency response, to represent the fluctuation characteristics. The most important dynamic performance index that evaluates the regulation quality, i.e. settling time, is derived from the fluctuation equation of tail wave. The different characteristic parameters of turbine regulating system have different influences on the change rules of head wave, tail wave and settling time.