Sen. Warner visits Y to learn about solar project

Of course it would rain. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner was in Waynesboro on Friday to get a firsthand look at the $100,000 thermal-solar project being installed at the Waynesboro YMCA, and the rain was coming down in sheets.

So instead of climbing on the roof to see the panels that will cover approximately 1,600 square feet of roof above the Y’s indoor swimming pool, Warner was dry inside the facility going over the details of the project with YMCA executive director Jeff Fife and Andy Bindea and Shawn Cooke of Sigora Solar, the project partner taking the lead on the installation.

Fife, Bindea and Cooke briefed Warner on the project, which is being made possible by grant monies from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy under a program funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act federal-stimulus program.

“There was a lot of criticism about the stimulus dollars, and I understand that. But there was also a lot of good that came out of that project, and here in Waynesboro, at the YMCA, we have an example of one of the projects that’s working,” Warner said.

The thermal solar system will be tied in the building’s domestic hot-water and space-heating system and has the potential to save the YMCA $13,000 a year in energy costs, said Bindea, the president of Sigora Solar, a Waynesboro-based company.

For the Y project, SIgora designed a drain back solar thermal system with a pumping station and a 500-gallon custom built heat storage tank that will be installed in one of the Y’s mechanical rooms along with all the heat exchanges and automatized controls.

Once the system is operational, it will be fully automatic with minimal maintenance required – an estimated two to three hours a year.

Warner was impressed with what he saw and learned from the Y and Sigora about the project.

“It makes sense in every area. It makes sense in terms of the jobs that are being created in terms of the solar installation. It makes sense in terms of a local business that’s going to have a great reference here in terms of the Y. It’s going to make sense in terms of the community that uses this great facility to see that solar power can work. And by being able to redirect $13,000 that otherwise would have been paid to the power company into additional programs and projects at the Y. That means more kids, more folks in the community will actually get help,” Warner said.


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