As an interview candidate, it’s important to stay up to date on the trends driving your industry. Employers are looking for candidates who can provide expertise and insight into the new technologies and smart processes that can help their company get ahead. Virginia is a unique example of how such information is really driving the industry. Here’s a look at how industry trends like reducing emissions is growing the Virginia economy.

Businesses and Carbon Trading

Virginia is taking the lead in the country by moving toward a high-value carbon trading market. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposed a CO2 Budget Trading Program, under which fossil-fired generators with a capacity equal to or greater than 25 megawatts (MW) would be issued permits and required to meet mitigation targets, either through reducing emissions or procuring additional permits. This regulation would help make Virginia’s energy market more secure, clean, and affordable while reducing emissions. The end goal of this regulation is in fact to bolster the state’s economy while acting to reduce carbon emissions.

What that means for the energy industry is that by employing a combination of advanced energy technologies — including renewable generation and end-user energy efficiency (EE) — Virginia could surpass its emission reduction targets while maintaining, or even reducing, electricity rates. Such an approach would end up creating over 30,000 jobs for Virginians, bringing in billions of dollars in new investments to the state, and generate tens, if not hundreds, of millions in additional state and local tax revenue.

Impact on the Virginia Economy

The benefits of a program like this include residents seeing their electricity rates fall, small businesses could see lower energy bills as efficiency investments helped them save money, and rural communities would gain from new investment and tax dollars thanks to the growth of wind and solar. Most critically, workers in a wide range of labor markets – from construction to HVAC installers to turbine technicians – would gain opportunities for new, family-sustaining advanced energy jobs. New jobs are always good for the economy, and with more opportunities comes more opportunities for business growth as well.

Virginia, using a full suite of advanced energy technologies, would be able to quickly surpass its carbon goals under this rule while at the same time growing its economy. If the state were to act aggressively on its aim to reduce year-over-year emissions, the untapped potential of a robust and predictable carbon market could quickly incentivize new advanced energy investments and set aside proceeds for less efficient sectors within the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME).

To not act at this point is really to leave cost-effective efficiency savings on the table for the state, and for businesses as well. But there’s still ground to cover. In the coming months, DEQ will carefully consider the comments provided by Virginia AEE and other stakeholders on the regulations proposed. Virginia’s Gov. Northam has indicated he would like to see it in place by the end of 2018 and from there, Virginia’s electricity producers would work to develop implementation plans, to ensure the rule goes into effect in 2020.

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