Playa and Wind Energy Collaborative
In 2019, in an effort to build awareness within the wind industry about playas and their importance to wildlife and people, PLJV formed a collaborative of wildlife and wind industry professionals to provide avoidance guidance and mitigation recommendations for siting developments near playas.
PLJV is committed to creating and maintaining a supported collaborative of wildlife and industry professionals united in siting wind energy to avoid playas. Our goal is to build awareness of playas, vet and improve avoidance guidance and mitigation recommendations, and increase communication among the partners who are working on wind energy in the PLJV region. Ultimately, we want 80% of future wind energy developments to be placed outside of playa clusters.
Why Avoid Playas?
There are about 80,000 playas scattered across the PLJV landscape and the region also provides some of the best opportunities for wind energy development.
We believe infrastructure on or around playas, playa clusters, or large isolated playas may adversely affect wildlife habitat and may increase the risk of collision mortality for waterfowl and other wetland birds.
Energy development on playa wetlands (either directly within a playa or among a cluster of playas) may also limit the hydrologic function of the playas. Research has shown that these shallow, temporary wetlands are a primary source of recharge for the Ogallala Aquifer, contributing up to 95 percent of inflow of water to the aquifer and improving the quality of that water. Recharge rates in playa basins are 10 to 1,000 times higher than under other areas, and groundwater recharge may exceed three inches per year in unaltered playas.
Since playas go through wet and dry cycles, they can be almost unnoticeable on the landscape, presenting problems for developers once water and birds show up. We strive to provide accurate information about avoiding playas so this situation is less likely to occur.
Tools for Siting Energy Development Near Playas
- Energy Development Siting Recommendations for Playas – Our guidance takes a precautionary approach around playas by advising that all energy development and associated infrastructure avoid playa clusters.
- Playa Web Map – This interactive web map enables users to engage with our playa data layers, helping wind energy developers to avoid playas and conservation partners to effectively target playa restoration and conservation activities.
- PLJV Wind Model – A version of this model is available now and shown on the Playa Map. The current model informs partners where turbines will likely be built. (see the About section of the Playa Map). We expect this model to evolve and change as part of a collaboration with FWS Region 2, where staff are looking to extend the model and increase its robustness.
- Playa Data Layers – Geospatial data is available for download and can be used in any GIS software to help site wind turbines sensitively around playas. Data include all probable playas currently identified in the region as well as zones of high playa density (playa clusters).
Join the Wind Collaborative
To learn more about the collaborative or to participate in this group of professionals making intentional decisions for wind energy and playas, call us at 303-926-0777.
You can also send us a note via the contact form; just select “Playa & Wind Collaborative” in the topic dropdown menu.