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Cost? Forget about it!

schott with turnbullJosh Frydenberg flanked by the decidedly less cheerful Ms Schott and the PM.

Prime Ministerial cobber Kerry Schott AO, former head of Sydney Water and peripatetic hopper from qango to qango, has voiced the startling opinion that coal is a thing of the past because, according to this morning’s Australian, “the cost of coal is always going to be more than the cost of wind and sun”.

One hears this line quite a lot, and normally it can be dismissed as piffle from those who either don’t understand that renewables are “cheaper” because of a distorted, subsidised market or, when it comes from rent-seeking ripoff artists like AGL, because they don’t want others to know it. Ms Schott, though, is a bit more of a worry, as she is the chairperson of the Energy ­Security Board and leading hand in crafting the government’s ­national energy guarantee (NEG).

While Ms Schott has a PhD in mathematics from Oxford and an arts BA and MA, her record as a respecter of consumers’ wealth is less than stellar, as any and all NSW taxpayers who don’t use tank water must by now appreciate. You see, back when the century was young, she was an ardent advocate for the white elephant Kurnell Desalination Plant — that and slugging consumers with huge price increases to pay for it. From the SMH of September 22, 2007 (emphasis added):

Sydney Water’s debt is set to double – to $7.5 billion – as its bottom line is hit by borrowing for the proposed desalination plant at Kurnell and plunging revenue caused by water restrictions.

But Sydney Water’s chief, Kerry Schott, defended the debt, saying it “hasn’t got to a level that would make you stay awake at night”. However, she warned she would become very concerned if the independent pricing tribunal did not approve the big rises in household and business water bills she asked for this week.

“We are heading into a lot of debt and we do need some price rises to help us pay the interest on it,” she told the Herald.

Dr Schott has asked the tribunal to grant a staggered increase in water bills by 2011 that would see the average householder pay an extra $275 a year.

Of this, $110 would pay for the desalination plant.

Of course the dams filled and, after producing some of the world’s most expensive mains water, Kurnell was mothballed, although the ongoing additional charges levied on consumers were not.

Ms Schott back then could spot a scam artist, which is why she was praised for doing all possible to scuttle the infamous Eddie Obeid’s bid to corner the Sydney water market. These days, however, when the green charlatans ask “Are you with us?“, her comments in The Australian can only be read as “Yes, very much so.”

The SMH report on Ms Schott’s eagerness to burden Sydney’s water consumers, which is to say everyone who owns a kitchen sink, with outrageous price increases can be read via this link or the one below.