Waynesboro solar business sees bright future

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Sigora Solar workers install a solar thermal array at a residence on Miller Farm Road in Staunton. Shawn Cooke, Andy Bindea and Chris Sine position a 4-by-10 foot panel on the support frame. NORMAN CARTER

Sigora Solar workers install a solar thermal array at a residence on Miller Farm Road in Staunton. Shawn Cooke, Andy Bindea and Chris Sine position a 4-by-10 foot panel on the support frame.

NORMAN CARTER

Part of the cavernous interior of the former W.J. Loth Stove Co. building near the South River in Waynesboro is now home to a new and burgeoning business, Sigora Solar.

Open for only four months, Sigora Solar designs and installs solar energy systems for homes and commercial businesses.

Owner Andy Bindea said the business already has installed solar systems in Waynesboro and in Nelson County, and has a current job in Augusta County.

Projects include a Martha Jefferson Hospital clinic in Afton and a home in Schuyler, which involved a solar-powered hot water and heating system.

Bindea's long-range plan is to acquire the equipment to manufacture solar thermal panels at his 12,000-square-foot Waynesboro headquarters.

Decades ago, Sigora Solar's building was home to Loth Stove, which manufactured coal- and wood-burning stoves and was a leader in the manufacture of electric cooking ranges.

Bindea said buying the tools necessary for manufacturing solar panels could lead to the company employing as many as 50 people. The welding and other equipment could cost as much as $400,000. But Bindea said there is ample room at his complex, and the work would create jobs and save the cost of having panels shipped from Florida.

He said he is finding business now through word of mouth. He and his two employees are willing to travel as far as 100 miles to provide solar-powered hot water and solar electricity.

A native of Romania, Bindea spent three semesters studying engineering at Piedmont Virginia Community College and then used a scholarship from the school to start his business.

"Ever since I left Romania, I wanted to build a company that would do something for the environment," he said, noting that, to him, "solar makes sense."

In addition to the intricate design work performed at Sigora's headquarters, Bindea is able to use a solarmetric device to help determine the best location for installing solar panels on homes and businesses.

"The pitch of the roof must be exact," he said.

The lifespan of the solar panels can be as much as 35 years, Bindea said.

Shawn Cooke, operations director for Sigora Solar, said being involved in all aspects of the design and installation of the energy systems is "satisfying and exhausting."

He's convinced that solar has a bright future.

"You will see more and more solar panels," he said.

Bindea said the recent federal stimulus program provided a boost for solar installations.

RD Design