SUEZ Ensures Which Way the Water Runs

After building its reputation as a leader in sustainability in Europe, SUEZ is making a concerted effort to bring its skills and efforts to the US. With ninety thousand employees spread across five continents, the company has staked its name on water and waste-management solutions that enable both municipalities and industries to optimize resources. From urban areas to rural ones, it’s becoming increasingly likely that SUEZ is handling water-management responsibilities nearby.

It’s a big job that’s only getting bigger, and as more international and state borders are crossed, the company needs a strong legal team to ensure operations behind the scenes are as tightly run as they are in the field. That’s where Andrianne Payson comes in. As senior vice president and general counsel of SUEZ in North America, she oversees in-house attorneys, support staff, and all legal activities related to the company’s water and recycling and recovery operations. This includes everything from contract review and negotiation to project development and corporate compliance. She is also secretary of SUEZ’s board of directors and the company’s ethics officer.

Prior to joining SUEZ, Payson was cochair for DLA Piper’s energy-power sector, where she represented various energy-industry clients in a variety of transactions in the US, Africa, and the Caribbean. She was also an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she audited various investor-owned utilities in New York and Connecticut.

That kind of background makes her an invaluable asset to SUEZ as the company pushes throughout the US to improve water quality in various regions through acquisitions and various plant upgrades. In March 2018, SUEZ won a water-management contract for the City of Woonsocket, in Rhode Island, through which it will take part in designing, building, and operating the city’s new drinking-water facility. The project, part of a comprehensive plan to improve local water quality, will ensure continuity of service to the city during construction work on the existing plant, and once upgrades are complete, the company will operate and maintain the new plant for twenty years.

“This new water-treatment facility has been a long time coming for the city,” said Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt in a press release. “We are eager to break ground on a brand-new plant that will produce the highest quality of water that our customers expect.”

In October 2018, SUEZ announced the completion of a $12.7 million upgrade to the New Durham Booster Pumping Station, in northern New Jersey, which pushes as many as twenty-five million gallons of water each day uphill to customers in the higher elevations of Hudson and Bergen counties. Upgrades included increasing the number of booster pumps from four to six; replacing pipes to improve both operation and reliability at the plant; maximizing energy efficiency with a better configuration of pipes, new pumps, and electrical equipment; improving pressure-surge protection to help reduce the potential for main breaks; and adding new meters for increased water monitoring.

A month after announcing the New Jersey upgrades, SUEZ filed a joint application with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to acquire the assets of the Eagle Water Company, which serve nearly twelve thousand people within the City of Eagle and various portions of Ada County in southwest Idaho. The acquisition expanded SUEZ’s Idaho operations, which currently serve 240,000 people in Boise and the surrounding area.

“The water-utility landscape continues to shift as small private and municipally owned utilities seek out larger investor-owned companies to acquire their operations,” said Eric Gernath, CEO of SUEZ North America, in a press release. “The successful operation of and investment in critical infrastructure more than ever requires reliable and larger operators who can sustain systems well into the future. Although there is no intent to expand operations in Idaho beyond Eagle Water Company at this time, this acquisition is part of a national strategy to grow the company’s portfolio by targeting water utilities in close proximity to existing operations.”

It’s a national strategy that’s positioning SUEZ at the forefront of environmental sustainability and resource management, and it’s one that the company is intent on expanding throughout North America.

***

Cozen O’Connor congratulates Andrianne Payson on her recognition as a legal leader in the water and wastewater industry. The firm’s attorneys support SUEZ’s mission of providing high-quality utility services to customers in a socially responsible manner. Cozen O’Connor—helping highly regulated clients achieve business success.