Finding new homes for old computers is an important task assigned to TVA’s Technology Initiative Team. When TVA’s automatic data processing equipment is outdated and no longer useful in a business environment, the team identifies Valley schools, nonprofit groups, and minority-owned businesses that could use the computers.
In fiscal year 2003, for example, TVA donated 1,103 surplus computers to 32 schools throughout the Tennessee Valley. Since 2000, a total of 2,231 surplus TVA computers have found new homes in 125 Valley schools.
And in March 2002, two former TVA computers moved out of the office and into the mountains. Today the seasoned data processors are helping Great Smoky Mountains National Park scientists and volunteers conduct an inventory of the park’s estimated 100,000 plants and animals. TVA donated the computers to the non-profit Discover Life in America (DLIA), which is overseeing the Smokies’ All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory .
“These PCs couldn’t have come at a better time,” said DLIA administrative officer Jeanie Hilten, who recruits and helps train all the volunteers participating in the inventory. “In the early spring we recruit all our volunteers and students and train them in inputting new species records, developing Web sites for each species, and doing a myriad of other computer-based tasks. These machines will allow for a lot more hands-on training and speed up the work.”
The goal of TVA’s Technology Initiative Team is to "help provide technology to a new generation." But through its donations of used computers and other business supplies, team members are also helping fulfill TVA’s mission to protect the Valley’s natural resources. Any used TVA computers that cannot be placed in new homes are sent to the Oak Ridge National Recycle Center for processing. Through reengineering, remediation, and recycling, the Center reclaims hazardous computer-related materials and transforms them into safe, reusable products.
Keeping old electronic equipment out of landfills ensures that the lead, cadmium, mercury, and other hazardous wastes they contain cannot leach out and contaminate the groundwater.
Some of TVA’s youngest stakeholders are also its most technologically savvy. So TVA decided to create a fun and educational Web site just for kids. The colorful interactive site is geared toward students in the fourth through eighth grades and is packed with information on the generation of electricity, the Tennessee River system, and TVA’s efforts to create a cleaner, greener Tennessee Valley. Kids can use the information for class projects and reports.
Teachers can also tap into the site for field trip ideas, special lessons, and materials, including curriculum plans that can be downloaded for classroom use. And parents can explore the site with their children to help with homework assignments and science projects.
In addition to kid-friendly explanations of TVA operations, the Web site includes important tips on water and electrical safety and energy conservation. For example, children (and parents) can find out what to do if a thunderstorm rolls in while they are swimming, boating, or playing outside. And kids can learn some simple yet effective steps to cut energy consumption at home and at school. There are also sections on TVA history, green power, making electricity, and what TVA does to protect the environment.
The TVA Kids Web site complements TVA’s other support to Valley school systems and educators, such as computer donations, technical assistance, classroom volunteers, and participation in the Partners in Education program.
Go to the TVA Kids Web site.
For TVA, clearing the air is a top priority. TVA recognizes that its operations contribute to air pollution levels in and downwind of the Valley. That’s why it’s helping develop ways to study and better manage air quality while also continuously working to reduce fossil plant emissions.
TVA’s Ozone Forecasting Team developed an air quality forecasting modeling system that the state of Tennessee and others can use in producing ozone advisory forecasts. Air quality forecasting is the science—and art—of estimating tomorrow’s air quality with today’s measurements. Its primary objective is to keep citizens informed about the potential for unhealthy air quality in their communities. They can then take steps to minimize their personal exposure and do their part to help reduce air pollution through energy conservation.
Through the modeling system TVA provides ozone forecasts in support of regional, state, and local air regulatory and outreach programs across the Tennessee Valley. These forecasts are based on models developed using meteorological forecast information and real-time ozone data.
TVA provided the forecast technology to its environmental and public health regulatory partners, who are responsible for issuing forecasts to the public through local and national news media and the Environmental Protection Agency’s AIRNow program.
Currently, TVA is testing and improving the ozone forecasting models for Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Tri-Cities area in Tennessee. TVA atmospheric scientists are working with partners to develop fine-particulate forecasting tools that will be implemented during 2004.