Company looks to develop hydropower, recreation on Sewall’s Island

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:03 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A new proposal from a renewable energy company out of New Jersey looks to develop hydropower and bring new recreational opportunities to Watertown.

LinkPast Solutions has submitted an application to the federal government looking to study the feasibility of Sewall’s Island.

The Black River has always been vital to the city of Watertown from the site of paper mills of the past to the source of waves that created hydropower the city draws energy from today.

The renewable energy company LinkPast Solutions is looking to tap into that resource and bring something more to the table.

“It’s our intention to maintain as much of the scenic splendor in New York as we possibly can and to provide a value to the organization and the people of that area,” said Brian McArthur, LinkPast Solutions president.

The company has submitted an application to FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, looking to study Sewall’s Island and four other islands along the river.

McArthur says it’s the right time for the company to play a role in the development of hydropower in the north country.

“The proposal that we have would be to build two hydroelectric facilities there but I think the value that I particularly see in it is from an environmental and a recreational standpoint,” he said.

In the proposal, the company would look into building what it says would be world-class whitewater kayaking courses on either side of Sewall’s Island.

Further up the Black River, near the Eastern Boulevard bridge, used to be home to the Route 3 Wave, which were national and even world championship kayaking events.

There is a hitch in the plan, however.

Exclusive rights to study Sewall’s Island for hydropower currently belong to Convalt Energy after a deal made last March. That is in place until March 2024.

McArthur says he is aware of the deal and if Convalt’s project goes through, he would be interested in partnering up.

“There is plenty to go around in terms of power and in terms of resources in that area and we are just looking to bring a possibly different perspective,” he said.

We reached out to Convalt Energy CEO Hari Achutan to gauge any interest in a partnership, but we have not heard back.

As for interest from the city, this is a new proposal and officials say they want to review it in full before giving their take.