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NRG CEO Expects Most Households to Soon Go Off the Grid

by Jordan Blum (Dallas Business Journal – dated May 1, 2014)

david-craneNRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) President and CEO David Crane said he expects many American residences to go “off the grid” within two years as reliance increases on natural gas and solar panels.

The CEO of the electricity-and-solar-focused energy giant who drives an electric car knows this direction comes at the expense of the power companies and the oil sector.

Crane is banking on cheap natural gas, the high costs of oil, deregulation and the increasing desire of people to better control the utility costs in their homes through technological advances and more. He said NRG is even looking into hiring “behavioral scientists” to that effect.  “If you can displace oil, that’s a good way to make money,” Crane said.  Crane said it doesn’t make sense for homes to have “two major delivery systems” going into them — above-ground electric lines and underground natural gas lines.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image25771190He said it is easier and and cheaper for many more residents to have devices that convert the natural gas into electricity, to add solar panels to homes and to “tell the electric company to get lost.” The trend will start in the Northeast and spread nationwide, he said.

NRG now has dual headquarters in Houston and New Jersey since it bought Reliant Energy in 2009 and has rapidly increased its Texas presence for a decade or so, including the acquisitions of Reliant, Texas Genco and GenOn Energy, all based in Houston. It recently acquired Plano-based Cirro Energy.

Crane said the most vicious commercials over natural gas and “fracking” have come not from environmentalist groups but from oil-heating companies. The Delaware Valley Fuel Association has ads, he said, that essentially make supporting natural gas akin to “supporting child molestation.”

clipart 6NRG became Texas’ largest electricity retailer more than a year ago and NRG is seeking to interact with its customers more through “new and innovative services,” Crane said.

He said Texas developed a great path forward with a deregulated “competitive energy market” and that “Houston is very much in our heart and soul” because NRG owns most of what once was Houston Lighting & Power.

Although much of the country will go greener, Crane said Texas will be slower to adopt because of the “natural growth” and cheaper energy costs within the state.

“You (Texas) are a little bit different than everyone else in the country,” Crane said. “The rest of the country doesn’t have the population influx that you have here … and the rest of the country doesn’t have the industry.”

green building 2“We embrace green energy,” Crane said, arguing that it is a “double-digit” growth opportunity and that it fits with growing civic sentiment.

Crane said NRG’s top competitors are ones who are “inside the home,” so he said a chief competitor is actually Comcast Corp. because “Comcast owns the home” — even though “most people don’t like their cable companies.”

“I’d like to make electricity cool,” Crane continued. “How do you do that? Theclipart 11 big thing for us is residential solar.”

He called residential solar a “huge job creator” as it becomes more financially beneficial.

“We want to be the (top) domestic player in residential solar by the end of the year … and I’m confident we’ll get there,” Crane said, with an eye on displacing SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY).

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