Wind and hydropower are important renewable components of national energy portfolios, but their infrastructure negatively affects biodiversity. Regional development requires identification of scenarios that minimize the cumulative impacts of multiple facilities. We introduce the cumulative impact plot (CIP) to quantify cumulative impacts of renewable energy development within a region. Summed impacts of facilities are plotted as a function of the number of facilities, with facilities ranked by increasing (the best-case scenario) or decreasing (worst-case scenario) individual impact. These curves represent lower and upper bounds to which alternative development scenarios (e.g., facilities ranked by generating capacity) can be compared. We used CIPs to assess overlap of potential wind and hydropower facilities with two types of conservation area in the United States: (1) federally protected lands and (2) critical habitats of federally threatened and endangered species. We evaluated two alternative scenarios: facilities ranked by (A) decreasing generating capacity and (B) increasing distance from urban centers. Differences between the best-case and worst-case scenarios were large, thus revealing opportunities to develop facilities with limited impact on conservation areas. Alternative scenarios maximizing energy density generally resulted in conservation area overlap intermediate to best-case and worst-case scenarios. CIPs can also identify the proportion of wind versus hydropower favored under alternative scenarios. Build-out scenarios aimed at minimizing conservation area overlap favor hydropower, whereas alternative scenarios favor wind power. We conclude that CIPs can (1) complement—but should not replace—project-level environmental impact assessment, (2) integrate strategic, cumulative, and scenario-based assessments, and (3) harness rapidly growing geospatial data.