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By Jeff St. John

Two utilities with confusingly similar names – Consolidated Edison Co. (NYSE:ED) of New York and Commonwealth Edison in Chicago – have thrown their hats in the ring as the latest to seek Department of Energy stimulus grants for smart grid projects.

ComEd, as the Chicago-based utility is known, said Tuesday that it would ask for $175 million to help pay for a 141,000 smart meter deployment that will test a variety of alternative pricing plans, in-home energy displays and home area network control systems (see GE, Silver Spring Land ComEd Smart Meter Pilot).

And ConEdison in New York said it would seek an unspecified amount in stimulus grants to help pay for a total of $375 million in smart grid projects it has planned. Those include the deployment of about 40,000 smart meters, adding monitoring to underground and overhead power distribution systems, and building a command and control network for the utility's smart grid systems.

DOE has about $3.9 billion set aside for 50-50 matching grants to fund smart grid projects. About $3.3 billion is aimed at commercial-scale projects, and about $615 million is aimed at smaller-scale technology demonstration grants (see DOE Issues Rules for $3.9B in Smart Grid Stimulus Grants).

Most of those grants aren't set to be disbursed until October at the earliest, though DOE did direct some stimulus funds toward smart grid demonstration projects that had already been promised funding (see DOE Hands Out $47M for Smart Grid Demos).

Utilities that have publicly announced plans to apply for stimulus grants include Texas utility Oncor, which is seeking $317 million, Baltimore Gas & Electric, which is asking for $200 million, and Maryland-based Pepco Holdings, which seeks $254 million. Arizona utility Salt River Project has said it is seeking an undisclosed amount of grants (see Oncor Makes $317M Smart Grid Pitch and news reports here).

ConEdison also said Tuesday that it would launch a $6 million pilot program in the borough of Queens that would include test of in-home energy displays and web portals for about 300 customers, as well as a project to link New York City's grid to a 100-kilowatt solar system on the roof of LaGuardia Community College.

Spokane, Wash.-based utility Avista on Tuesday also announced it would seek $20 million in smart grid stimulus grants to help pay for a distribution grid upgrade.

Source: ConEd, ComEd Ask for DOE Smart Grid Grants