David Crane
Fortune Live MediaDavie Crane of NRG Energy.

I’ve been going to climate and energy conferences for a long time, and I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve heard anything new. Or, uh, interesting.

But I heard just such a thing yesterday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit that I’m attending in NYC. (I’m on a panel today at noon Eastern, FYI.)

It came from David Crane, the CEO of NRG Energy, one of America’s biggest energy companies, which owns several power subsidiaries and a couple of utilities. Under Crane’s leadership, NRG has moved aggressively into clean energy — including distributed solar, as I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Crane is, unlike many utility types, a big believer in distributed energy. He said yesterday that the whole approach of covering vast swathes of desert in solar panels and piping the energy hundreds of miles through high-voltage transmission lines “was stupid in 2008 and it’s stupid today.” Rather, the key advantage of solar is that it can cover houses and buildings and car parks and other urban structures, enabling them to generate their own power.