- August 1, 2016; Vol. 3, Number 8

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Toward a Smokeless Tomorrow: Former energy CEO envisions a future without fossil fuels

by Sarah Parsons

No one is actually making money from coal-fired power plants in the United States right now, according to David Crane, former CEO of NRG Energy, one of America’s biggest power companies. That may seem a strange sentiment coming from a man who led a Fortune 200 company owning more than a dozen coal-fired power plants. But then again, Crane is far from your typical energy executive.

During Crane’s 12-year run as CEO, he tried to transform NRG — then America’s fourth-largest carbon emitter — into a firm focused on wind, solar and nuclear power. The company made strides in that direction, but Crane was ultimately let go earlier this year.

“I was trying to turn a company from brown to green, from centralized to distributed, and wholesale to retail,” he told corporate leaders on May 24. “I was trying to do three transformations at the same time. That was probably a couple of bridges too far.”

Yet even after that setback, Crane remains dedicated to re

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