ROCKLAND, Maine — The first new poles were erected Thursday morning as the city began its long-awaited downtown streetlight replacement project.

Within about a month, 57 streetlights on Main Street from North Main to Harbor Park will be replaced. The city said it will save money both because of the energy efficiency of the lights but also because Rockland will no longer have to make lease payments to Central Maine Power.

The cost for the lights and poles is $189,624 and Michaud Electric was awarded the contract to install the lights for $26,500. The public services department is working with Michaud Electric to install the lights. This is being coordinated with CMP, which is removing the old lights.

Councilor Larry Pritchett, who serves on the town’s energy committee, said that the city will recoup its costs in four and a half years.

The lights are light-emitting diodes which use 73 percent less energy than the older lights, Pritchett said.

Rockland Public Services Director David St. Laurent said the lighting offers another feature that will be a benefit to the community. The intensity of the lights can be controlled remotely either by the public safety departments or himself. He said, for example, if there was an accident or fire, the lighting can be increased.

The existing streetlights were installed in 1999-2000. The city began looking to replace the lights in earnest in 2011, Pritchett noted.