NRG CEO David Crane steps down

NRG’s David Crane will be remembered in coming years as a business leader who saw a future powered by renewable energy before it came to pass. However, this future may not have arrived fast enough for Crane, who has been removed as CEO of American energy giant NRG after 12 years.

Crane has been replaced by former Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer Mauricio Gutierrez, and will assist in the CEO transition through the end of 2015.

Crane was outspoken about the inevitability of a future powered by distributed renewable energy. Under his leadership NRG created its Home Solar division, yieldco NRG Yield, and other renewable energy businesses.

However, the company’s stock price has plummeted from around $25 per share in mid-May to just above $10. In recent months investors have expressed concerns about NRG’s embrace of renewable energy and the losses from Home Solar. This led NRG to announce in September that it would spin off Home Solar and its other renewable energy businesses into a new company.

“During his tenure at NRG, David Crane was unique among his peers,” commented GTM Research VP of Research Shayle Kann. “The leader of one of the largest fossil-fuel generating fleets in the country, he increasingly dedicated his attention, strategy and rhetoric toward a cleaner, more distributed vision.”

“And while NRG has made a number of strides toward that aim, the promise largely remains just that — promise, and not yet profit.”

GTM Research Director of Solar Research MJ Shiao notes that the company does not yet have a good sense of what to expect from the company’s new leadership. “We are waiting like everyone else,” Shiao told pv magazine.

And while NRG’s stock has performed particularly poorly, there is nothing unique about declining stock prices at NRG versus other solar companies or the broader energy sector over the last six months.

“The energy sector as a whole is hurting, due to low oil prices,” commented Shiao. “And whether fairly or not, a lot of solar companies are suffering.”