The US state of Hawaii is preparing to boost the use of renewable energy with the help of a $1 billion project to link its islands with a new undersea power cable.

The state’s government has awarded a contract to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed cable to California-based telecoms firm AECOM. The cable would link the islands of Lana’i, Moloka’i, O’ahu and Maui and enable the state to reach the goals set out under the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.

Under its $2.9 million contract, AECOM will examine the impact of the cable on the islands’ culture, economy and aquatic ecology. The work will include “rigorous public involvement”, according to the state’s government.

Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative has set a goal of sourcing 70 per cent of the state’s energy needs from clean sources by 2030. The creation of a statewide electrical grid will enable wind energy generated on Lana’I and Moloka’I to be transmitted to demand centres on O’ahu.

“By providing a statewide electrical grid and a way to move renewable energy from where it is abundantly available to where it is needed, the interisland cable will help our state achieve a clean energy future,” said Ted Peck, Administrator, Hawaii State Energy Office. “The cable and the Interisland Wind projects, will help improve our energy security by reducing Hawaii’s dependence on the volatile global petroleum market.”

Some 90 per cent of Hawaii’s energy needs currently come from imported petroleum. In addition to wind energy, the state is also planning to tap its solar, geothermal and marine energy resources.