Having completed its business as usual maps as shown in the example above, the Central Great Plains team then mapped how proposed wind facilities overlap with sensitive habitat areas. Analysis of proposed facilities (FAA 2015) indicates that 28% of anticipated wind development will occur in sensitive areas under business as usual. Based on projections of 10.4 GW of additional wind development in Oklahoma and Kansas by 2040 (USDOE 2015), this strategy could result in 235,866 acres of avoided development in sensitive areas.
The candidate strategy aims to avoid development in sensitive areas without limiting the amount of wind energy produced. Energy availability and security is an important contributor to quality of life. Even more important for conservation, wind energy development is an important component of the transition to no-carbon energy that is necessary to address climate change. To confirm that it is still possible to achieve wind energy production goals while avoiding sensitive areas, the team identified “proposed procurement areas” outside of sensitive areas. The analysis accounted for wind speed, relative topography, distance to transmission, existing wind development, steep slopes, unsuitable land use, and ecologically sensitive areas. Proposed procurement areas could host 235 GW of wind, over 14 times the projected need for wind development in Oklahoma and Kansas by 2040 (Figure 12)