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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — This city Thursday completed replacing more than 11,000 streetlights with new, more efficient LED bulbs.

The last of the old lamps was swapped out at the National Frontier Trails Museum.

The new LED bulbs are expected to save taxpayers and ratepayers in independence about $1 million a year, according to Leon Daggett, director of Independence Power & Light.

Independence has spent about $4 million over the last eight months to remove all the old mercury vapor and high pressure sodium streetlamps and installed thinner, flatter light fixtures that use 68 percent less electricity while providing the same amount of a higher quality, white light on the pavement at night.

The investment is expected to pay for itself in about 4 years. Independence is the only municipality in the metro area with more than 100,000 people making the switch. But across the nation, big cities including Los Angeles, Seattle and Las Vegas are in the process of converting to LED streetlights.

“We are using less to do the same thing,” Daggett said. “We think we’re doing it better. The goal here, is that these are street lights. They light the street better and use 68 percent less.”

There’s a 10 year warranty on all of the lights, so taxpayers won’t have to pay to replace any of them for at least 10years. The LED bulb has a life expectancy of between 20 and 25 years, so much of savings for taxpayers comes from not having utility workers out on the streets replacing burned out bulbs. The new lights also are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 10-million pounds.

The most noticeable difference for folks in Independence is that the new bulbs put all of their light on the street, where it belongs. Some liked that the old bulbs helped light homeowners’ yards. Others are pleased so-called light pollution doesn’t happen here anymore.

The city says federal stimulus money also is being used to help offset the cost of the new lamps.

Kansas City Power And Light says it has converted about 4,000 streetlights to LED as part of a pilot program. KCPL says it’s currently assessing what would be the best lighting option for the future.