Peco Energy Co. was awarded a $200 million federal stimulus grant today that will allow it to speed up deployment of "smart-grid" technology, including 600,000 advanced electric meters in the next three years.

The grant will allow the Philadelphia electric utility to rapidly roll out a plan to install "smart meters" that will allow customers to monitor electric prices in real time. The utility plans to convert all 1.6 million of its customers to the devices in a decade.

The Peco grant was among 100 U.S. Department of Energy grants totaling $3.4 billion. The government's aim is to reconfigure the nation's power-distribution system to prepare for the adoption of alternative energy and conservation technology.

The smart-grid improvements incorporate advanced switches and wireless communication that will increase the system's reliability, efficiency, and security from attack.

Smart-grid advances are critical to accommodate the growing number of customers who produce power from their own wind and solar generators and upload their output to the grid.

Six utilities, including Peco, received the maximum grant of $200 million. Atlantic City Electric Co. was awarded $18.7 million, and PPL Electric Utilities Corp. in Allentown received $19 million.

The PJM Interconnection L.L.C., the regional grid operator, based in Valley Forge, received a grant for $13.7 million to improve monitoring equipment to reduce power-line congestion in 10 states.