How One TD Leader Made His Home Net Zero Energy

by Peter van Dijk, Senior Vice President, Finance, TD Bank group
Jun 9, 2014 5:00 PM ET

If I'm honest it started as a joke. It was April Fool's Day, and with a straight face I said to the guy who had installed the 40 solar panels on the roof of my home in Oakville, Ontario, that I would now like to have a wind turbine installed. I thought I'd be greeted with a look that said, "This one's a bit of a nutter," but instead Mihai gave me the name of a company that specialized in home wind turbines.

I couldn't quite envision a wind turbine whirling away in my backyard – or, more to the point, my neighbors' reaction to it. But I was curious, so I contacted the company and learned that having a home wind turbine was not only possible but made a lot of sense.

So first off, it bears little resemblance to the propeller-like ones you see on wind farms. At 52 feet tall (a 10-foot vertical axis atop a 42-foot tower) and six feet across at its widest, my wind turbine is much smaller and, as one neighbor said, looks more like a piece of metal art than something that produces power. But it does – it's a one kilowatt turbine and generates enough power to meet a good portion of the electricity needs of my house. While the power generated by my solar panels is fed into the provincial power grid (for which I receive a monthly payment), the electricity produced by my wind turbine is converted into usable power that's used directly with the excess stored in batteries.

So why have I gone into the home power-generation business? I'm concerned about the environment, and I wanted to actually do something that would make a difference. One net-zero-energy home may not make a huge impact, but I figure I'm setting an example and providing a model of how you can reduce your carbon footprint to virtually nothing without compromising quality of life.

But lest I sound too pious, I should admit to another agenda – one that's all about my personal bottom line. The reality is the funds I receive for the solar energy I supply to the power grid more than cover the payments on the loan I took out for my solar panels. After seven years it will be paid off and then it will all be cash in hand. The wind turbine – or windmill as I like to call it – reduces my energy costs, but it'll take longer to see a return on my investment – about 15 years. Fiscally speaking, it may not be the best investment, but for a former Dutchman, working for the green bank, how could I resist?  

TD echoes Peter van Dijk's commitment to the environment.  To find out more, visit our 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report