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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.”

 

TVA Offering STEM Grants for K-12 Educators

The TVA STEM Classroom Grant Program sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bicentennial Volunteers Inc., a TVA retiree organization, is now open for applications. The program funds Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning projects in classrooms and schools in the TVA service areas throughout the Tennessee Valley.

The 2019-2020 application closes Oct. 20. Grants may be requested in amounts up to $5,000. Eligible applicants are teachers or school administrators in public schools, grades K-12. Schools must be in the TVA service area and receive power from a TVA distributor.

“TVA recognizes that excellence in education is the key to our future workforce in the Valley,” said TVA STEM Education Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “We want to work directly with teachers to support initiatives that advance STEM activities in the classroom to develop a talent pipeline for TVA and its customers.”

Last year’s program awarded $580,000 in grants to schools across the Tennessee Valley. The competitive grant program provides teachers the opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 on STEM projects with preference given to grant applications that explore TVA’s primary area of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving.

Visit the tsin.org  to learn more about grant requirements, see examples of previously funded projects, and apply for funding.

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.”

 

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber Wins Prestigious Award from Site Selection Magazine

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber has been honored with a Mac Conway Award, which was revealed in the May 2019 issue of Site Selection magazine.

The magazine’s Mac Conway Awards for Excellence in Economic Development recognize the top local and regional economic development agencies in the US for their roles in helping to deliver prosperity to their communities.

This year’s winners were determined by an index that examines corporate facility investment projects in US metro areas as tracked by Site Selection’s proprietary Conway Projects database in 2018. Scores are awarded based on six criteria: total projects, total investment associated with those projects and jobs associated with those projects; and those same three numbers calculated per capita for the metro area.


Lucia Cape, Senior VP of Economic Development, Industry Relations and Workforce for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber; and Chamber President/CEO Chip Cherry with Mac Conway Award. (Photo: Claire Aiello)

The Huntsville/Madison County area saw record growth in 2018, with five new companies adding 4,207 jobs and $2,363,367,600 in capital investment. The largest of these was landing Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, which includes 4,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in investment. Facebook also announced a $750 million data center. In addition, 13 companies added 982 jobs and $346,653,096 in capital investments.

“The foundation that led to the game-changing economic development wins in 2018 are the result of the foundation laid by many partners over a long period of time,” said Chip Cherry, president/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber. “The Chamber is proud to be part of an amazing team comprised of elected leaders, volunteers, partners, and a talented staff. The team has a common mission – to develop a world class economy that supports innovation and provides employment opportunities for our citizens, while ensuring that our quality of life is second to none.

“We are honored to accept the award on behalf of our partners and the community.”

The chamber cited support from many partners, including the state, cities of Huntsville and Madison, Madison County and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“The number of game-changing projects landing in Huntsville in recent years, capped by Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, reflects the hard work of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “The chamber team is highly professional, energetic, and willing to put in long hours to bring jobs and investment to the community. This is a well-deserved honor.”

“This economic development team has mastered the art of collaboration and partnership through a strategic vision that has been designed and executed by the Chamber, local government, and business,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “The city of Huntsville is proud to be part of this partnership.”

“Our chamber gets it, and they have for a long, long time. Leaders from NASA, Redstone Arsenal, city and county governments, education, and health care take the lead from our chamber and partner with our community business leaders to help define our direction, build on our strengths, and look forward toward opportunity,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “Individual viewpoints are synced, the steps to make those opportunities reality are defined, and our incredibly talented chamber team goes to work.

“We have accomplished this year after year, decade after decade, turning opportunity into jobs for our community.”

“Madison County is pleased to celebrate the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber for this much-deserved award,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale W. Strong. “The Chamber has always played a pivotal role in positioning our region as an economic development leader as demonstrated by the 2018 growth and expansions throughout our region. In Madison County, Alabama we’re grateful for the collaborative approach by our chamber team to bring new and innovative opportunities to Madison County.”

“TVA congratulates the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber on its recognition as a Top Economic Development Group. We are proud to partner with the chamber as we work to foster job creation and economic growth in the region,” said John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of economic development. “The results the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber have had speak for themselves, and we look forward to a continued partnership for years to come.”