Engineering an electric and educational future

Engineering an electric and educational future

This week is Engineers Week, a time dedicated to celebrating all that engineers do to make a difference, while promoting the need for more engineers in society. We’re proud of our hardworking, innovative engineers who help push us toward our goal of becoming the utility of the future. 

Francis Frank is one of our engineers making a difference both here at PPL Electric and beyond. As the director of grid modernization, he’s tasked with keeping our grid reliable for years to come. 

“I look at the grid today, and I prepare it for the future,” Frank said. “I’m figuring out how solar, electric vehicles, wind and other renewable energy sources will affect the grid.” 

As Francis looks toward the future, he’s motivated by his past. He is a proud native of the Caribbean island country of Grenada. From a young age, he took an interest in how energy worked at home.

“I saw how the lack of proper administration of power services, like power distribution, affected the island,” he said. “I was always interested in figuring out why a country with so much sunshine was powered by diesel.” 

Francis received an associate degree in Grenada before moving to the United States. His plan was to get a second degree and head home. Over 20 years later, he is still making a difference in the U.S. He joined PPL Electric in September of 2022, and has been working with his 67 team members to advance a safe, reliable and affordable electric future. Francis says that progression would not be possible without his team. 

“My team is the valuable resource that enables my success,” he said. “Our engineers and technicians provide the technical solutions to enable the grid modernization projects and processes. The foundation of this team is allowing us to become the utility of the future.” 

Although he stayed in America, his roots are still deeply embedded in the communities that make up Grenada. He is the president of his family’s foundation, dedicated to helping provide schoolbooks, fees, uniforms and more to local students.  

“I’m blessed,” he said. “I consider myself, first and foremost, an ambassador to Grenada. The foundation is a way to represent my country and help it come together as one nation with one future.” 

As an engineer, Francis says he would love to see some of these students be inspired by the island around them and take a similar path, but he says there’s also a need for engineers here in the U.S. 

“Engineers are so valuable,” he said. “We need to encourage STEM programs in our education systems, so we can have engineers ready to come up with important solutions in our future. Our value should always be celebrated and encouraged.” 

Francis solves problems today that positively impact the years ahead. He’s engineering a clean, affordable energy future, while engineering an educational foundation for children in his native country. 

“It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding because I know where I come from and I’m blessed to have this opportunity,” he said. “Somebody ought to do it, and I’m blessed that I’ve been chosen to take it on.” 

We are grateful for Francis and the many engineers that help us provide safe, reliable power to over 1.5 million customers. 

Empowering Employment Through the Wayne County Community Foundation

Empowering Employment Through the Wayne County Community Foundation

Being part of the communities we serve goes beyond delivering safe, reliable electricity. Through PPL Foundation Empowering Communities Grants, we support local programs focused on environmental stewardship and education, economic development and/or workforce development. 

The Wayne County Community Foundation, located in Honesdale, is a recent PPL Foundation grant recipient. The Community Foundation is allocating these dollars toward supporting its Worker Crisis Relief fund. For 30 years, the organization has used resources from the community to help those in need. The Worker Crisis Relief fund is one of almost 150 different funds established to address areas of need. 

“Our goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone here in Wayne County,” said Ryanne Jennings, president and CEO of the Wayne County Community Foundation. “That involves addressing poverty at a systemic level. 

Located in rural northeast Pennsylvania, Wayne County presents challenges for employees with transportation issues. The Worker Crisis Relief fund has mostly helped cover expenses for repairs and down payments on used vehicles. The Community Foundation works with the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance to find the best solution for funding. 

A car is an essential item in this area,” Jennings said. “It’s not only essential for working, it also keeps families in their homes and provides food security.” 

“This fund has been a valuable resource for several community members who have faced a crisis and needed immediate assistance,” said Katheryne Hait, executive director of the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance. “By partnering with the Community Foundation, we have been able to help these individuals bounce back quickly and regain stability in their lives.” 

The fund has helped 10 people address transportation issues since it began over a year ago. Jennings says she hopes the foundation can expand in the coming years to continue to meet the evolving variety of needs of the community. 

The word ‘empowering’ is a strong one; that’s what this Worker Crisis Relief fund does,” Jennings said. “We want to say that, as a community, and PPL is included in that community, we are here to support people when they need it the most. The empowerment is a big reason why we sought this funding.” 

Feeding Education: Empowering Communities Through The Edible Classroom

Feeding Education: Empowering Communities Through The Edible Classroom

Being part of the communities we serve goes beyond delivering safe, reliable electricity. Through PPL Foundation Empowering Communities Grants, we support local programs focused on environmental stewardship and education, economic development and/or workforce development.

The Edible Classroom, a recent PPL foundation grant recipient, is using this funding to expand its operations in two districts. The Lancaster-based nonprofit uses the garden as a tool of educational enrichment. It started as an elementary school volunteer project between Beth Horst, Co-Founder and Director of School District of Lancaster Partnerships and Grace Julian, Executive Director, and Project Manager for Columbia High School’s garden.

There’s tremendous value in what it does for children – educating them through a mix of physical and mental education, bringing the community together – and the team hoped to take this to a broader audience. “And that’s how we became The Edible Classroom.” Horst said.

Since 2017, the organization has formed 15 gardens across three districts. Each garden is an interactive outdoor learning space where students build, tend to and grow a garden. The produce is then supplied to the community for consumption.

“The meaningful engagement with the kids keeps us all very engaged and passionate about what we do,” Julian said. “Kids from across the learning spectrum, even those who say that the classroom is not their favorite place to be, come alive outside in the garden.”

With PPL’s funding, lessons are held during the school day that incorporate STEM standards, healthy living, composting and environmental stewardship. The Edible Classroom says the funding helps it make more of an impact in the community.

One of these gardens is at Columbia High School’s Hill Campus. Since receiving the grant last year, the organization has been able to develop and expand space behind the school.

“This takes learning outside of the typical classroom environment,” said Kendall Pankake, the Principal of the Hill Campus. “Our younger and older students have enjoyed being a part of building the garden from the ground up.”

A photo of the finished garden funded by PPL.

Students from Columbia High School’s Hill Campus expanded and cultivated this garden behind the school with funding from PPL.

The program’s success has sprouted a future full of opportunities. The Edible Classroom is looking at options to both amplify its involvement with the schools it currently serves, while looking forward to the possibility of expanding to other schools and districts.

“We’re so thankful for the funding from PPL because we believe so deeply in the value of the work we’re doing,” Horst said. “We see the ripple effect of growing food in so many areas – it’s the growing, eating, amending soil, the environmental impacts and tying in the community. The investment has helped make a mark, and we look forward to deepening that investment and making it more beneficial for the schools and the communities.”

The Edible Classroom’s goals are at the root of our Empowering Community grants. We strive to help those who help others, and through the power of education, the seeds of community are being planted in Lancaster County.

Save energy and money on your bill this winter

Save energy and money on your bill this winter

Our first cold spell of the year is here and with temperatures predicted to remain frigid for the foreseeable future, we want to help you prepare for the colder days ahead. A few simple steps can help you stay comfortable and save energy this winter.

Capture the sun’s light and heat. During the day, leave your curtains and blinds open to illuminate your rooms naturally and gain warmth from the sun. At night, close your curtains and blinds to prevent that free heat from escaping.

Prevent fireplace heat loss. When you’re not using your fireplace, keep the damper closed so warm air doesn’t escape through the chimney. Energy-efficient fireplace grates also help you save by pulling cool air out of your room and into the fireplace, while bringing warm air back in the room.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. Sometimes we forget that ceiling fans are just as important for keeping you warm as they are for keeping you cool. Flip the switch to change the direction of the blades so they spin clockwise, which will push warm air downward.

Adjust the thermostat according to the time of day. When you’re home and awake, set the heat as low as it feels comfortable. Aim for 68 degrees as an optimal temperature. Wearing warmer clothing or grabbing a blanket can help keep you cozy. Then, while you’re sleeping or out of the house, lower the thermostat by 7°-10°. Doing so for at least 8 hours can save up to 10% on your heating bill. A programmable thermostat will make it easy to save. You also don’t have to heat all rooms equally. Using an energy-efficient space heater in your most common rooms allows you to keep the main temperature lower.

Find and seal air leaks.  Inspect all your doors, windows and ductwork for gaps that could leak heat from your home. Many of these cracks and leaks can easily be fixed with caulk and weatherstripping, which can add up to big savings. Notorious culprits for air leaks are gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.

Maintain your heating system. Basic maintenance of your HVAC system, such as regularly replacing the air filter, can save money and increase your comfort. Dirty filters trap dust and particles that can reduce airflow, which makes your system work harder. This takes longer to heat your home and drives up costs. Check your air filter every month, and if it’s dirty, replace it. Your filter should be changed a minimum of once every three months.

Check your water heater settings.  Lowering the temperature of your water heater by just 10° can save you up to 5% on heating costs. The Department of Energy recommends setting it at 120°F.

Schedule a free energy assessment. Looking for additional ways to save? A good next step is to schedule a virtual energy assessment with a trained energy advisor. They will provide you with recommendations on incentives available for upgrading to energy-efficient equipment, and you’ll receive a personalized energy savings kits with upgrades to help you start saving right away.

Following these simple energy efficiency tips can help you save energy and money this winter. For more information on the variety of tools, tips and programs we have available for you to save, visit