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Executive Council shelves $4 million in proposed contracts for tourism photography • New Hampshire Bulletin

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Executive Council shelves $4 million in proposed contracts for tourism photography • New Hampshire Bulletin


The Executive Council shelved an attempt by the Department of Business and Economic Affairs Wednesday to spend more than $4 million in federal money to pay for professional photographs of New Hampshire’s seasons. 

In a series of four proposed contracts, the department sought to spend the money – which comes from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – to pay four photography companies to develop “still images, b-roll video, and produced video segments,” according to a written explanation to the council from Commissioner Taylor Caswell.

But a number of councilors – as well as Gov. Chris Sununu – raised objections over the price tag. The contracts have been tabled, and Councilor David Wheeler, a Republican of Milford, has urged the department to find better ways to spend the money. 

“I’d like to know: What are we doing with $4 million taking pictures?” said Wheeler.

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“What are we getting for $3,000 a day out of this?” asked Councilor Cinde Warmington, a Concord Democrat. 

Under the contracts, the companies would be tasked with creating content to cover New Hampshire’s seven tourism regions in all four seasons. The content is meant to serve as a free resource for tourism businesses in the state to use in their promotional materials, and could be used by the state in its advertising efforts, too, Caswell said. 

Caswell’s department assigned different areas of the state to different contractors. Brian Nevins, a former staff photographer for Surfer and Snowboard magazines, would be awarded $1.3 million to produce content in the Lakes Region, the Dartmouth and Lake Sunapee areas, and the Seacoast. Portland Post Production LLC, which has worked with the University of New Hampshire, L.L. Bean, and Saucony, would be given $860,000 to focus on the Merrimack Valley and Monadnock areas. 

Meanwhile, Warden Co., which has worked with the department on winter photography in the past, would be awarded $860,000 to take photos and video for the Great North Woods and White Mountains areas. And Dennis Welsh, a professional photographer and videographer, would be paid just under $1.1 million to develop general content for the VisitNH seasonal campaign. 

Not all councilors appeared opposed. “The shelf life: You’re going to get five, six years out of these images, correct?” Councilor Janet Stevens, a Republican of Rye, asked Caswell. “This is an investment that could span a decade moving forward,” she said. 

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Defending the contracts, Caswell said the federal funds have been awarded to the state for very specific purposes, and that when they put the contracts out to bid, the amount reflects the offers received. 

“These were as a result the best combination of quality and cost that we saw,” he said. He said the department chose to split up the money into different contracts so that no one photography business would be tasked with developing content for the whole state.

He also said the department is running out of time to spend down the money in that program. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily be able to guarantee that we’ll be able to come up with an additional program (in time),” Caswell said, responding to Wheeler’s suggestion that they spend the money otherwise. 

The contracts can come off the table and receive an up or down from the council in future meetings. But Sununu agreed with councilors that the services were too high, even if they did come from federal funds. 

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“I have an iPhone,” the governor quipped. “And I’m like 20 bucks.” 



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New Hampshire

Funny math garbles N.H. governor’s take on electricity rates – The Boston Globe

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Funny math garbles N.H. governor’s take on electricity rates – The Boston Globe


“While other states have let politics drive policy, New Hampshire has always put the ratepayer’s bottom line first,” he said. “We’ve let markets, not government, drive innovation.”

Sununu said costs had increased much more over the past seven years in other New England states than they had in New Hampshire. He shared a chart showing electricity rates for residential customers had risen 70 percent more in Maine than in New Hampshire, 83 percent more in Massachusetts, 94 percent more in Connecticut, and 127 percent more in Rhode Island.

The actual differences documented in the underlying data, however, aren’t nearly as stark as Sununu’s statement would suggest. His statement also had a glaring omission.

Although the statement quotes New Hampshire Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican, as saying New Hampshire’s approach is “unlike the policies of our neighboring states in the region,” it fails to mention one of those neighbors: Vermont.

Including the Green Mountain State would have painted a different picture: Vermont’s electricity rates have risen more slowly and remain lower than New Hampshire’s rates, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration, the same source Sununu’s office cited for data on electricity rates in the other states.

Sam Evans-Brown, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Clean Energy New Hampshire, said Vermont has been aggressive in promoting renewable energy policies.

“If energy and climate goals were driving this trend, why is Vermont so affordable?” he said.

Consumer Advocate Donald M. Kreis said Vermont has pursued aggressive decarbonization policies but hasn’t restructured its electric utilities the way other New England states have.

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“Vermont’s electric utilities are still vertically integrated monopolies, whereas in New Hampshire customers can buy electricity from competitive suppliers or community power aggregation programs,” Kreis said. “It would be interesting to figure out whether the EIA data suggests that one of those approaches is superior to the other. I haven’t done the necessary analysis.”

The governor’s office referred questions about Sununu’s statement to New Hampshire Department of Energy Deputy Commissioner Christopher J. Ellms Jr., who did not answer when asked why Vermont had been excluded.

Sununu’s statement lists clean energy mandates in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as policies that have been blamed for driving prices higher, and it presupposes that lower electricity rates in New Hampshire would be attributable to the state’s market-driven strategy.

“If anything is clear,” Energy Commissioner Jared Chicoine said, “it is that New England as a whole would benefit from adopting our approach.”

Officials didn’t just cherry-pick data by excluding Vermont. They also muddled data for the states they included by using a calculation that exaggerated differences between the states.

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When asked how the percentages from Sununu’s statement were calculated, Ellms outlined an unusual methodology. He didn’t calculate the percentage by which each state’s rate increased. Instead, he calculated each state’s increase in terms of cents per kilowatt hour, then directly compared those price increases across state lines.

For example, residential electricity rates rose 5.28 cents in New Hampshire and 9.66 cents in Massachusetts during the relevant timeframe, according to the EIA data Ellms cited. Based on those numbers alone, his methodology concluded the increase in Massachusetts was 83 percent more than the increase in New Hampshire.

But that methodology failed to account for differences in each state’s baseline. In New Hampshire, the 5.28-cent increase represented a rise of 28.6 percent. In Massachusetts, the 9.66-cent increase represented a rise of 49.3 percent.

That means electricity rates actually increased 20.7 percentage points more in Massachusetts than in New Hampshire.

That difference is notable, but it’s based on snapshots taken from just two months. Ellms said the starting data came from the month Sununu took office, January 2017, and the ending data was from February 2024, the most recent available. None of the ups and downs in between were factored into the analysis.

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Evans-Brown said state officials portrayed New Hampshire price trends as if they are meaningfully different from other New England states, but that’s an artifact of a cherry-picked timeframe.

“Comparing two points in time in this way just invites spurious conclusions,” he said, adding that the monthly data is noisy and New Hampshire is “right in the middle of the pack.”

Ellms said his methodology worked just fine and the press release accurately reflected how rates have increased in other states relative to New Hampshire.

“No matter how you present it, the underlying data clearly show that New Hampshire’s electric rates have increased substantially less than the other states’ rates,” he said in an email. “Your implication otherwise might be meant to undermine New Hampshire’s relative success compared to the other states but the fact remains that New Hampshire’s ratepayer focus has significantly contributed to these positive outcomes and will continue to do so.”

Recent history suggests, however, that relatively low rates are far from inevitable in New Hampshire. There is a lot of volatility in the monthly EIA data, and New Hampshire’s rates aren’t always lower than its neighbors — in fact, New Hampshire had the highest rate of any New England state twice in 2023 and five times in 2022, according to EIA data.

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Electric rates in New Hampshire skyrocketed in summer 2022, driven by the high cost of natural gas amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. New Hampshire had the highest rate in New England from August 2022 to January 2023, according to EIA data. As natural gas prices fell, the electricity rate in New Hampshire began to plummet.

Sununu blamed President Biden’s administration for high energy costs in 2022, citing Biden’s decision in 2021 to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Clean energy advocates contended the underlying problem is New England states are overly dependent on natural gas to produce electricity.


Steven Porter can be reached at steven.porter@globe.com. Follow him @reporterporter. Amanda Gokee can be reached at amanda.gokee@globe.com. Follow her @amanda_gokee.





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Nashua Motorcycle Crash Leaves Person With Life-Threatening Injuries

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Nashua Motorcycle Crash Leaves Person With Life-Threatening Injuries


NASHUA, NH — Nashua police are investigating an accident involving a motorcycle on West Hollis Street that left a person with life-threatening injuries.

Nashua Police, fire, and AMR ambulance responded to West Hollis Street between the area of Simon Street and the on-ramp to the Everett Turnpike on Thursday around 6:45 p.m. Firefighters and medics found an unconscious motorcycle operator, and CPR was performed by the responders. The person was transported to a local hospital with what appeared to be life-threatening injuries.

Nashua police closed West Hollis Street at Simon Street and secured the scene, awaiting officers of the Accident Investigation Team. The road was expected to be closed for several hours.

At the scene, a motorcycle could be seen on the right side of the roadway. A vehicle with doors open could be seen on the left side of the roadway. Police confirmed the vehicle was a witness and not involved in the crash.

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Additional information is expected, at this time updates will be provided.



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Part-time lanes coming to I-95 in New Hampshire and Maine to reduce traffic this summer

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Part-time lanes coming to I-95 in New Hampshire and Maine to reduce traffic this summer



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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – New Hampshire and Maine are rolling out part-time lanes on I-95 in Portsmouth to help reduce traffic during peak travel times.

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The “part-time shoulder use” system will be used on 3 miles of I-95 between Exit 5 in New Hampshire and Exit 3 in Maine during peak travel times from May through October. The right shoulder of the road northbound in New Hampshire and southbound in Maine will be used as an open travel lane.

Flashing beacons and warning signs will be used to alert drivers when the shoulder lane is open for travel. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation said safety patrols will also be increased when the lane is in use.

Shoulders will be closed to traffic when congestion eases or if there’s an emergency situation.

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