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September 21. 2011 10:55PM

PSNH seeks to have lawsuit vs. Bow plant dismissed

Public Service of New Hampshire has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit that challenges the operation of its coal-burning power plant in Bow.

In papers filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Concord, the state’s largest utility said issues raised in the lawsuit have already been addressed or involved equipment that caused no additional air pollution.

Merrimack Station is a 445-megawatt power plant located on the bank of the Merrimack River. The company says the 51-year-old plant meets or exceeds all environmental standards.

A $437 million project is under way to remove mercury from emissions.

However, the National Resources Defense Council has named New Hampshire one of the top 20 polluters in the country for coal- and oil-fired power plants. The organization says Merrimack Station is responsible for 89 percent of power-plant air pollution.

In July, the Conservation Law Foundation filed suit against PSNH under the Clean Air Act. The suit claims PSNH had violated existing permits and never obtained permits for major renovations such as a new electric generating turbine in 2008 and for an activated carbon injection system.

“The projects targeted in CLF’s complaint either had no impact on air emissions or decreased them,” PSNH wrote in one filing made Tuesday.

The projects include installation of a more efficient turbine, a since-scuttled pilot program to reduce mercury emissions, and the operation of electrostatic precipitators.

PSNH said the Conservation Law Foundation had no standing in federal court because it had not shown members actually harmed by the alleged violations.

The case has been assigned to District Court Judge Joseph N. Laplante.