Two Washington-area companies and an employe of one were among five companies and six individuals indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of rigging bids for work at eight Western Pennsylvania plants of the United States Steel Corp.

The two area electrical contractors named in the indictment issued Friday were the Howard P. Foley Co.--which was indicted on other, unrelated charges less than a month ago--and E. C. Ernst Inc. of Fairfax. Also named in the indictment was Joseph J. Rodgers, Pittsburgh branch manager for the Foley Co.

Others indicted included Fischbach & Moore Inc. of Dallas, the nation's largest electrical contractor; Lord Electric Co. Inc. of New York, and its vice president and Pittsburgh branch manager Paul E. Arbogast; Sargent Electric Co. of Pittsburgh, its vice chairman Frederic Sargent, and its President Ralph D. Vryenhoek; and Tri-City Electric Co. of Hammond, Ind., and its president, James L. Oesterle.

The indictment charged that the companies established prices "at artificial and noncompetitive levels" for projects at U.S. Steel between 1974 and 1981.

Joseph E. Griffin, chairman and chief executive officer of E. C. Ernst--which had revenue of $50.5 million in 1982--said in a prepared statement yesterday that the company should not be held responsible for actions of a former administration.

No present or former employes of Ernst are named in the one-count indictment against the company, and Griffin's administration, which came in after Ernst filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law in December 1978, has no information on any alleged wrongdoing, Griffin said in a telephone interview.

"I've got nobody left that can answer to the questions" of the grand jury, he said, describing the company he now runs as "basically a new entity." Griffin also said that Ernst has done little work for U.S. Steel since 1975.

Attempts to reach Howard P. Foley Co. officials for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

The Foley Co. is a low-profile, high-volume electrical contractor that handled volume of $175 million in 1982, according to Dun & Bradstreet. Foley is headquartered in the District, but few of its 4,100 empoloyes work in this area.

On June 8, Howard P. Foley Co. and its president and chief executive officer, Bancroft T. Foley Jr., were indicted by a federal grand jury along with five other corporations and seven other individuals on charges of fixing bids for work at nuclear power plants in Washington state and Indiana.

That indictment charged that for at least 18 months in 1978 and 1979, the defendants and unnamed co-conspirators conspired to eliminate competition in the bidding for three electrical contracts. The government said each of those electrical contracts was for more than $100 million.