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TVA’s IT on Frontline for COVID-19 Pandemic Safety

Employees around the nation are heeding the call to limit their personal interactions by teleworking.

In the process, teleworking has stressed IT networks and is spotlighting cybersecurity concerns for businesses around the world.

TVA IT prepared for mass telework by running drills to simulate a real-life activation of enterprise-wide work-at-home procedures. (Photo/Tennessee Valley Authority)

“First and foremost, TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) IT continues to work around the clock to ensure business continuity and identify, protect, detect and respond to issues that could threaten critical cyber assets,” said Jeremy Fisher, TVA’s Chief Information Officer. “We continually invest in our IT and cybersecurity programs, and the team is working to keep employees connected and the power flowing in the midst of the pandemic.”

The move for employees to work remotely is challenging the nation’s IT resources in an unprecedented way.

Tech giants such as Google and Microsoft are rushing to secure and enable systems to support exponentially higher use of VPN and other systems, such as WebEx, that enable successful telework.

NetworkWorld reported on March 19 that research by one VPN vendor shows that VPN usage in the U.S. grew by 53 percent between March 9 and 15, and it could grow faster. In addition, Cisco reported its WebEx platform increase 33 times over two weeks ago.

According to Fisher, TVA has seen virtual connectivity grow from 1,689 users on March 18 to more than 4,700 on March 19. Fisher said this is more than double the usage for a normal day, and TVA IT maintained a 99.8 percent application availability. 

“We could not have doubled our users overnight without proper planning and a great team of IT professionals,” said Fisher. “We have a structure that allows all our IT employees to contribute to the mission of keeping power flowing to nearly 10 million people.”

TVA IT prepared for mass telework by running drills to simulate a real-life activation of enterprise-wide work-at-home procedures. To help increase employee support, TVA’s internal IT Help Desk increased hours to address any emergent concerns or the increase of employee IT questions during this time.

“We’ve hit a few peaks and firsts for IT this month,” said Fisher. “The overall response from the IT team during the Coronavirus outbreak has been outstanding. This is an “all-hands-on-deck” situation, and the team has a commitment to collaboration, problem-solving and communication as issues have come up.

“Not only have we had to respond to issues with our own systems, but we are also tackling issues that are taxing even the biggest tech companies. We are seeing the value of IT in action.”

 

Chattanooga Lookouts to Host Carbon-Neutral Game

CHATTANOOGA ― The Chattanooga Lookouts will become the first Minor League Baseball team to host a game that is 100 percent carbon-neutral.

The Green Power Night home game against Montgomery will be Aug. 23 and is being powered through locally generated solar energy credits provided by EPB of Chattanooga in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

To celebrate this historic partnership, the Lookouts will be wearing special green jerseys.

EPB’s Solar Share, Chattanooga’s only community solar installation, is powering the game. Solar Share panels along Holtzclaw Avenue will provide solar energy credits to generate the 2,500 kilowatt hours needed to power a game and support operations. This solar energy credit is equivalent to 1.98 tons of carbon.

EPB is a municipally owned utility that provides energy and connectivity solutions in the Chattanooga area. EPB serves more than 170,000 homes and businesses.

TVA coordinated the partnership.

“TVA was founded on renewable energy from hydro dams 86 years ago, and today nearly 60 percent of the electricity we make is carbon-free,” said Doug Perry, TVA vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions. “We continue to grow and evolve our green power programs, and this game is a great example of the renewable energy solutions TVA makes available across our region to make businesses more competitive and better environmental stewards.”