Doug Moe blew it. So did Melanie Conklin. Two weeks back, Watchdog revealed that a relatively new service offered by Madison Gas and Electric allows anyone with access to the Internet to learn the monthly high, low and average energy use of any residence in the utility's service area. (Just go to www.mge.com under "Average Energy Use and Cost.")
There wasn't time or space to take this story to its logical next place - prying into the energy use of locally prominent individuals. But it seemed a cinch that one of the city's foremost daily newspaper columnists would do so, perhaps not even bothering to thank Watchdog for these table scraps. As it turned out, however, both dozed right through this opportunity. Here's the story they missed.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz averaged just $180 a month in combined gas and electric over the last 12 months on his west-side home, with an assessed value of $356,900. But Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk has him (and nearly everyone else) beat: Her downtown condo (assessed at $343,000) averaged just $89 in electric and used no gas.
Among other local political players, County Board Supv. Brett Hulsey, a known environmentalist, averaged $157 on his west-side home. Madison Ald. Robbie Webber topped that with an average of $111 on her near-west-side abode. Meanwhile, Ald. Tim Bruer, who heads the nonprofit group Energy Services Inc., averaged $333 a month on his south-side residence, assessed at $349,800. (Side snoop: Bruer owns six other properties in the town of Madison and Middleton, with a combined value of $1.7 million. The guy could practically run for Congress.)
Barry Alvarez, no surprise, is an energy hog, averaging $532 a month on his Fitchburg behemoth (2006 assessed value: $731,800). But radio guy "Sly," who likes to portray himself as an anti-environmentalist - he once joked about leaving his car run in the parking lot to protest a gas-conservation measure - averages just $166.
Moe and Conklin also maintain modest averages of $168 and $185, respectively. (For comparison, the guy who writes Isthmus' popular Watchdog column came in at $172.)
And what about Gary Wolter, the CEO of MGE, who has a 3,420-square-foot mansion on Waunona Way with an assessed value of $972,400: How much gas and electricity does he use? You can't tell, because Wolter, like several other MGE officers, has his personal energy-use information blocked.