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220 ILCS 5/4-610

    (220 ILCS 5/4-610)
    Sec. 4-610. Thermal energy networks.
    (a) The General Assembly finds that:
        (1) the State has an interest in decarbonizing
buildings in a manner that is affordable and accessible, preserves and creates living-wage jobs, and retains the knowledge and experience of the existing utility workforce;
        (2) thermal energy networks have the potential to
affordably decarbonize buildings at the community-scale and utility-scale and help achieve the goals of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (Public Act 102-662);
        (3) the construction industry is highly skilled and
labor intensive, and the installation of modern thermal energy networks involves particularly complex work, therefore effective qualification standards for craft labor personnel employed on these projects are critically needed to promote successful project delivery; and
        (4) it is the intent of the General Assembly to
establish a stakeholder workshop within the Commission to promote the successful planning and delivery of thermal energy networks in an equitable manner that reduces emissions, offers affordable building decarbonization, and provides opportunities for employment with fair labor standards and preapprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.
    (b) As used in this Section:
    "Thermal energy" means piped noncombustible fluids used for transferring heat into and out of buildings for the purpose of reducing any resultant onsite greenhouse gas emissions of all types of heating and cooling processes, including, but not limited to, comfort heating and cooling, domestic hot water, and refrigeration.
    "Thermal energy network" means all real estate, fixtures, and personal property operated, owned, used, or to be used for, in connection with, or to facilitate a utility-scale distribution infrastructure project that supplies thermal energy.
    (c) The Commission, in order to develop a regulatory structure for utility thermal energy networks that scale with affordable and accessible building electrification, protect utility customers, and promote the successful planning and delivery of thermal energy networks, shall convene a workshop process for the purpose of establishing an open, inclusive, and cooperative forum regarding such thermal energy networks. The workshops may be facilitated by an independent, third-party facilitator selected by the Commission. The series of workshops shall include no fewer than 3 workshops. After the conclusion of the workshops, the Commission shall open a comment period that allows interested and diverse stakeholders to submit comments and recommendations regarding the thermal energy networks. Based on the workshop process and stakeholder comments and recommendations offered verbally or in writing during the workshops and in writing during the comment period following the workshops, the Commission or, if applicable, the independent third-party facilitator, shall prepare a report, to be submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly no later than March 1, 2024, describing the stakeholders, discussions, proposals, and areas of consensus and disagreement from the workshop process, and making recommendations regarding thermal energy networks.
    (d) The workshop shall be designed to achieve the following objectives:
        (1) determine appropriate ownership, market, and rate
structures for thermal energy networks and whether the provision of thermal energy services by thermal network energy providers is in the public interest;
        (2) consider project designs that could maximize the
value of existing State energy efficiency and weatherization programs and maximize federal funding opportunities to the extent practicable;
        (3) determine whether thermal energy network projects
further climate justice and emissions reductions and benefits to utility customers and society at large, including but not limited to public health benefits in areas with disproportionate environmental burdens, job retention and creation, reliability, and increased affordability of renewable thermal energy options;
        (4) consider approaches to thermal energy network
projects that advance financial and technical approaches to equitable and affordable building electrification, including access to thermal energy network benefits by low and moderate income households; and
        (5) consider approaches to promote the training and
transition of utility workers to work on thermal energy networks.
(Source: P.A. 103-580, eff. 12-8-23.)