To help avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, society needs to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Wind energy provides a clean, renewable source of electricity; however, improperly sited wind facilities pose known threats to wildlife populations and contribute to degradation of natural habitats. To support a rapid transition to low-carbon energy while protecting imperiled species, we identified potential low-impact areas for wind development in a 19-state region of the central U.S. by excluding areas with known wildlife sensitivities. By combining maps of sensitive habitats and species with wind speed and land use information, we demonstrate that there is significant potential to develop wind energy in the region while avoiding significant negative impacts to wildlife. These low-impact areas have the potential to yield between 930 and 1550 GW of name-plate wind capacity. This is equivalent to 8–13 times current U.S. installed wind capacity. Our analysis demonstrates that ambitious low-carbon energy goals are achievable while minimizing risks to wildlife.