The Center for Economic and Policy Studies at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service provides local, state, and federal decision-makers; stakeholders; and the public with the research and tools they need to create informed policies that solve today’s complex problems. We do this through direct collaboration with policymakers and by leveraging our expertise in economics and urban planning to perform independent research and provide useful economic data.


The Energy Transition Initiative

Public policy shapes countless aspects of people’s lives which is why we have taken on the important work of helping Virginia to become carbon neutral by 2050. At the national level, policy such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has been used to promote investments in a smarter electric grid. At the state level, the Virginia Clean Economy Act is steering Virginia toward a carbon-neutral energy sector by 2050. And at the local level, informed public policy is facilitating the beneficial siting of renewable energy facilities, such as in Virginia’s Pulaski County where local officials achieved gold-level SolSmart designation and then confidently approved their first utility-scale solar facility.

We launched the Energy Transition Initiative to help policy makers and other stakeholders navigate the challenges of shifting away from fossil fuels and towards renewables and other zero-carbon sources. To help Virginia become carbon neutral by 2050, we help localities understand the process, costs, and benefits of adopting cleaner energy technologies; and we engage directly with policymakers, energy providers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and other interested stakeholders to smooth the transition to a sustainable energy economy.

Economic Data

Answering important questions requires good, reliable data. To meet this need, we assemble informative economic data that are not readily available elsewhere and make them easily accessible to the public. Currently, we provide a comprehensive selection of local tax data for Virginia, including local options sales tax data, taxable sales data by locality, and local tax rates data. Our goal in improving access to this information is to promote data transparency, foster research, and make life easier for anyone  involved with local governments in Virginia.

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Collaboration with policymakers

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Our team is dedicated to working together with public officials to estimate the impacts – intentional or unforeseen – of policies in Virginia and around the world. We have partnered with the Department of Veteran Affairs to forecast necessary cemetery capacity; the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission to evaluate business incentives; the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and localities throughout Virginia to create best practices in siting wind and solar generating facilities; managers in India’s electricity market to increase the regularity of the electricity supply; and more. By collaborating directly with policymakers, we are able to efficiently and effectively address the complex problems facing society today. 

Independent Research

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To help policymakers prepare for the future, we conduct independent, unbiased research that is not only reactive, addressing issues that have already surfaced, but also proactive, anticipating potential problems and developing solutions before these challenges arise. Examples of our recent research include a comprehensive analysis of the actions needed to make Virginia’s economy carbon-neutral by 2050; quantification of the possible effects that negative emission technologies will have on food, water, and energy supplies; and examination of the impact of the public higher education sector on Virginia’s economy. By asking the right questions and engaging in evidence-based research that seeks to provide reliable answers to these questions, we strive to ensure that policymakers are always ready for whatever the future may hold. 

Contact Us

Our expert staff of economists and energy researchers have worked with a range of organizations, under contract, to meet their project goals. Contact us to discuss how we can help with your next project.