From an institutional point of view, the Maphumulo area falls within two of ESKOM functional areas, with the Eastern parts of the area falling within Empangeni and the Western parts being managed by the Pietermaritzburg Office. According to ESKOM, the electricity backlog in Maphumulo is approximately 52%, but even those areas that are electrified experience power outages due to the weakness of the network. As a result most people are reliant on other sources of energy such as solar, paraffin, gas and candles. In view of all the envisaged developments in the area as a result of the formalisation of the Maphumulo Town amongst other developments, the situation is likely to worsen in the near future, and the municipality has made proposals to ESKOM and the Department of Energy to construct a sub-station within the area.
The 2007/08 and 2008/09 IDP reviews respectively highlighted a few priority electrification projects that were to be implemented by ESKOM within the area, including the Ntikanda/Oqaqeni project which was completed in 2008. According to ESKOM, a brief study has been conducted with regard to the electrification of the Qwabe and Sakhisizwe areas which are both in Ward 7 and formed part of the list of priorities. The study identified about 31 existing customers in the area and that the cost of extending the service to other customers will be about R18 000 per connection due to the scattered nature of the households in the area (15-25 houses per square kilometre). The electrification of the area however forms part of the Universal Access Programme, with a total of 564 connections planned. ESKOM plans also indicate that the Thafamasi as well as the Mxhosa/Mbitane electrification projects that were launched during the 2007/08 financial year are due for implementation during the 2010/2011 and 2001/2012 respectively. ESKOM has indicated that the Thafamasi project is dependent on the Kranskop NB 15 upgrade, and will therefore be implemented between April 2010 and March 2011.
Towards addressing the network capacity challenge within Maphumulo, ESKOM has strengthened the Madungela NB 55 (Ngcolosi area) during the 2008/2009 financial year, with the Kranskop NB15 (KwaSizabantu) upgrade from 11/22kV currently in progress and scheduled for completion December 2009. The refurbishment of Glendale NB 29 is scheduled for the 2010/2011 financial year.
Key issues for the Municipality with regard to electricity include the following:
Eradication of the huge electricity access backlogs within the area
Alignment and communication in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of electrification projects between Maphumulo Municipality, ESKOM, and the Department of Energy
The upgrade of the electricity network to cater for current and future electricity needs