Light emitting diode technology as an alternative for conventional forms of lighting is receiving a boost from the University of Michigan’s hometown.

The City of Ann Arbor said Tuesday that it would replace all its downtown street lights with LED fixtures from Cree. Because LEDs consume less energy and last longer than other forms of lighting, the city said it expected to recover the cost of the LEDs in less than four years.

The city estimated it will save $100,000 a year in lighting costs and will also cut greenhouse gas emissions through reduced energy consumption.

Cree already is working with Raleigh and Toronto on LED projects as part of the “LED City.”

Ann Arbor is believed to be the first city to convert all its street lights to LEDs. It received a $630,000 grant to fund the project.

Each LED uses 56 watts of energy and is expected to last up to 10 years compared with conventional lights that consume more than 120 watts and last two years. Detroit Edison, the power provider, will meter the LED lights.

"This is decision was based on three years of extensive research on the energy and maintenance savings associated with LED lighting, citizen surveys and a very successful pilot of 25 LED lights spanning an entire city block,” said Mayor John Hieftje in a statement.

The streetlights are a combination technology effort from Lumec for the fixtures, LED lighting units from Relume Technologies and XLamp LEDs from Cree.

“We applaud the tremendous efforts by Ann Arbor’s civic leaders to make energy efficiency a priority for the city,” said Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and chief executive officer. “We are especially pleased that Ann Arbor is joining the LED City program to share the results of their product testing and surveys with other municipalities to help accelerate the adoption of LED lighting worldwide.”