RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill that would restrict the profits of utility monopolies in Virginia, passed its first phase in the Virginia General Assembly on Monday.

The Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act — or, Senate Bill 1321 — was passed unanimously by members of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

The bill — sponsored by Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Charles City) — would give the State Corporation Commission the power to review rates utility companies are charging. In the event that those rates are found to be unreasonable, the commission would be able to order the utility companies to reduce them.

“When you have companies that have a monopoly on purpose, it is crucial that they be tightly regulated to ensure that families in Virginia are protected from unreasonable rate increases,” said LaTwyla Mathias, Executive Director at Progress Virginia, a political action group. “When utility companies are charging too much and making too much money, that money should go back into the pockets of the people it was taken from.”

In October 2022, Dominion Energy reached an agreement with Virginia to limit how much of the cost of a new offshore wind project could be passed on to its customers. This came after a push from Attorney General Jason Miyares and environmental groups, indicating that SB1321 may have bipartisan support in the coming vote by the full Senate.