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New LED street lights are safer and cost less to maintain, according to the city.

A before and after of streetlights after being converted to LED streetlights.The city of Hillsboro has finished a nearly $10 million project to convert city streetlights, which is expected to make the city more efficient and save money over the next decade.

For years, the city has been working to convert its streetlights to Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs. The lights are more efficient, less expensive and safer than traditional street lights, according to city spokesman Patrick Preston.

"LED lights improve visibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, and reduce light pollution," Preston said. "Newly installed technology reduces energy needs, enables wireless control, and increases efficiency for maintaining and replacing lights."

The project has been underway since 2017, and Preston said the conversion will save more than $450,000 in energy costs each year, has already saved enough energy to power the Hillsboro Brookwood Library for 16 months.

The project was one of the largest energy-efficiency projects in city history, requiring crews to replace more than 4,500 street lights, and add new high-tech equipment that will offer staff wireless control of the street lights, reducing street light power during hours of low activity on some roads. The equipment also alerts crews about maintenance issues, Preston said.

The new LED streetlights are part of Hillsboro's "smart city" initiative, a plan to bring more high-tech elements to the city's infrastructure. Hillsboro Parks and Recreation piloted a program in 2016 using sensors to gage the amount of irrigation needed at a handful of city parks to save water. The streetlights will serve as a network on which future smart city initiatives can be built, such as a proposal for community Wifi in parts of the city.

"The street poles have a sensing device on them," former Assistant City Manager Rob Dixon told the Tribune in 2017. "You don't worry about when it's burnt out. It calls you when it gets burnt out, and if it gets knocked over, it tells you it's been damaged and knocked over."

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