NRG CEO David Crane Steps Down, Joins The B Team

NRG Energy announced on Dec. 3 that David Crane is stepping down as president and CEO of the company effective immediately.

Crane had served in the position since 2003. During more than 12 years at the helm of NRG, he led the company through its emergence from bankruptcy to its current position as a leader in the wholesale and retail energy markets.

Mauricio Gutierrez will replace Crane. Gutierrez has served as executive vice president and COO since July 2010 and has been with NRG in various roles since August 2004. Crane is expected to assist with the transition through the end of the year.

As Kennedy Maize reported in POWER last year, NRG doubled its non-utility generating capacity under Crane’s leadership, making it the leading non-utility generator in the U.S. Crane led the company to aggressively pursue some new generating options, but not all have panned out as expected.

Maize noted that NRG was the lead investor in the failed expansion of the South Texas nuclear project. The two new units would have been merchant nuclear generators, but the economic environment for merchant generation in the competitive Electric Reliability Council of Texas wholesale market resulted in the project being an economic loser. Crane was forced to abandon the idea, writing off some $331 million in development costs.

NRG is also a big investor in utility-scale merchant solar generation as a result of Crane’s leadership. It is the majority owner and operator of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California (POWER’s Plant of the Year Award winner in 2014). The company also owns majority interest in the Agua Caliente site in Dateland, Ariz., and the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

On Dec. 2, The B Team—a not-for-profit initiative formed by a group of business leaders, which includes Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, and 17 other global leaders—announced that Crane was joining the team to work on its “Net-Zero by 2050” initiative. According to The B Team website, the initiative is “focused on the need for clear and ambitious long-term emissions targets for both government and businesses, and has called for a target of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.”

“I’m proud to be part of a group of visionary business leaders aligned in their understanding that it will take all of us, working together, across all sectors of our society to achieve ‘Net Zero by 2050’ and catalyse new and better ways of doing business to positively impact our planet,” Crane said in the announcement.

“As corporate leaders, we have not only a responsibility in driving the change, but also the ability to do so while creating economic gain for our stakeholders, improvements in the environment and new opportunities for others. The innovation economy around energy and clean power has opened the doors to ground-breaking solutions that were considered impractical only a few years ago. I am looking forward to working with The B Team to energize a low carbon future where everyone can thrive.”

It is unclear if Crane’s departure from NRG has anything to do with his joining The B Team.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)