• COA unlids defects in P62-M DOE solar lighting program

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    The Commission on Audit (COA) uncovered defects in the P62-million solar housing project of the Department of Energy (DOE).

    Government accountants rose that the contractor of the Solar Homes Systems project of the Energy department was paid fully in spite of discovered defects.

    In February 2011, the DOE entered into a P62.99-million contract with Dumalag Corp. for the purchase of goods in line with the Household Electrification Project.

    The goal is to cater to 2,750 household beneficiaries in 60 barangays (villages) in 17 provinces.

    Under the agreement, the Dumalag will deviler, install and test 2,750 photovoltaic solar homes system, 40 streetlights and six communal lighting facilities.

    Trainings for basic troubleshooting and maintenance of solar photovoltaic system were also lined-up and a one-year warranty after-sales service.

    However, upon review of the installed solar lighting system on Tablas Island, Romblon province, COA found that there were defects in the switches, lamps, receptacles and controller socket.

    The audit team found that those living nearby the coast experienced faster corrosion of switches and screw base of the lamps due to high salinity of the ambient air.

    Also, no trainings were conducted to acquaint the beneficiaries in simple troubleshooting and maintenance of the solar photovoltaic despite stipulation in the contract.

    The audit team asked the DOE to hold off the remaining P22 million. However, “final payment was made without revalidation reports on the extent of compliance by the contractor.”

    Certifications from the Tablas Island Electric Cooperative, Inc. has been attached to disbursement vouchers for the final P22-million release.

    However, COA said that these were not done by DOE and that the documents “may be considered self-serving in the absence of validation reports by DOE project technical personnel.”

    For one, Shirley Sumabat, division chief of the island’s electric cooperative, certified that the defective switches, main plugs and bulbs have been done in some households.

    “The word ‘some’ indicates that not all defective components were replaced,” COA said.

    The audit team asked the Energy department officials to validate for themselves the replacement of defective components.

    They added that the seminar must be conducted in order for the beneficiaries to grapple themselves problems arising from the solar lighting system in their households. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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